There really aren’t flashy graphics or large marketing campaigns to drive traffic. You can’t play games or write on someone’s “wall.” But Reddit.com is still one of the internet’s most popular sites with over a billion pageviews a month. It’s part news aggregator part message board, and it’s driven by viewer-posted content. Innocent enough. Until you realize it also features porn.
“The news aggregator is a great startup success story. It’s also a great community site that often bands together in support of worthy causes. It’s also a live interview site: Politicians go on Reddit to answer questions from the community,” Business Insider (BI) reports. “But Reddit also has a seedy side that most people aren’t aware of.”
That “seedy side” is found on user-created pages. See, the site allows users to make sub-pages centered around whatever topics peak their interest. And in this world, those interests include porn, “jailbait,” and “ni**ers.” BI explains:
These sub-reddits are known by “r/name” because their URLs are reddit.com/r/name. And the Internet being the Internet, the light moderation leads to some stuff that plenty of people would consider awful.
- r/porn: Self-explanatory, and full of links to explicit porn. When we visited, the frontpage included a link to a hardcore pornographic image of Traci Lords, the notorious underage pornstar of the 80s, which is technically illegal.
- r/jailbait: in internet slang, jailbait refers to pictures of underage girls that are legal but still sexually suggestive in some ways (think pictures on the beach, etc).
- r/n—ers: this is perhaps the most offensive of the lot. It’s mostly full of links to news stories and other items with commentary that can only be described as racist. For example, a link to a story about scientific genetic research is described as: “‘Equal powers of reason’ shared across racial groups is a delusion. Translation: Blacks be stupid.”
BI has provided screen shots (redacted to a certain point) that capture the graphic nature of some of the pages:
The sub-page “jailbait” features “NON-NUDE pictures and videos of teenage girls and boys who are possibly below the age of consent,” according to the site:
But while “jailbait” may not be considered porn, the truth is porn is a large traffic-driver for the site:
According to Alexa, around 9% of search traffic to Reddit comes from porn-related queries. Alexa statistics are probably not accurate because they rely on a toolbar, but they’re a directional indicator that a significant part of Reddit’s traffic is porn-related. [...]
A Google Trends analysis suggests that porn, while a small part of Reddit’s traffic, is also growing faster than the rest of the site. This means that if Reddit banned porn, their growth would be less impressive.
Reddit hasn’t moved to shut down the sites porn sub-culture. While it does remove illegal content, it generally defends questionable posts on the grounds of free speech, says BI.
Reddit is owned by media giant Condé Nast, which didn’t respond to BI’s request for comment.
Could it be time to add it to your list of blocked sites? Or, is it just free speech at work?
(See more pictures and read the full story at BusinessInsider.com.)