Plus: Glassdoor abruptly adds real names to profiles; Disney wages pricey proxy battle.

Not so long ago, Reddit was a fairly lawless place. Yes, moderators oversaw some of the thousands of subreddit communities with an iron fist, but others allowed some of the worst abuse, hatred or even criminality the web has to offer a place to thrive.

That’s changed radically. Reddit is now one of the buzziest companies on the New York Stock Exchange, closing at $50.44 after its first day of trading, which means a market cap of $9.5 billion.

New York Times columnist Kevin Roose lays much of the success for the booming stock at the feet of a major shift in moderation policies in the last few years.

 

 

Roose points to three key factors that allowed Reddit to clean up some of the nastier corners of its website, and how its content efforts succeeded when many other social media companies have failed, creating environments that are unsafe for both users and brands.

  1. Rather than trying to ban individual bad actors, Reddit deleted entire online communities that caused repeated problems. Granted, part of this is possible due to Reddit’s unique format that is built around communities. This wouldn’t work on a site like X, for instance. But Roose says that by getting rid of entire subreddits, it either forced bad actors off the site or forced them to clean up their act.
  2. Reddit outsourced content moderation to volunteers. Each subreddit is governed by a team of moderators who are charged with enforcing both the site’s rules as well as any unique rules of that particular community. While this can cause issues, such as a wide-scale moderator revolt last year over API changes, Roose credits this volunteer army with much of the site’s turnaround.
  3. Finally, as Roose puts it: “policed behavior rather than morality, and it did so without worrying too much about being seen as capricious or biased.” While Meta in particular has bent itself into a pretzel trying to appear balanced to largely conservative critics, Reddit simply banned the bad behavior, whatever side of the spectrum it came from.

Why it matters: Reddit is becoming an increasingly attractive option for brands. Due to the IPO, they’re rolling out tons of new ad options, tools and analytics to woo brands, making it an attractive place for both paid and organic social activity.

Reddit is also becoming an increasingly important search tool. Roose notes that he often adds “reddit.com” to his Google searches to help him find relevant information from real people amid the myriad of posts on the site. Google has taken note of this and is now partnering with Reddit in a variety of ways, including to train its LLM.

To be clear, there are still plenty of dark corners of Reddit. There’s porn galore, for one thing. But for many brands looking to connect with customers, it’s now worth a look, whether for simply monitoring to see consumer sentiment or being an active participant in relevant communities.

Editor’s Top Reads:

  • Glassdoor, a site long known (and hated by employers) for giving workers the ability to anonymously review their workplaces, is accused of adding real names to profiles without warning or consent, even if those names weren’t provided during the setup process. One user says her name was added after she had a call with customer service, and she was told the only way to remove it was to delete her entire account, TechCrunch reported. This poses a challenge for the website: it can be difficult to be honest about an employer, especially a powerful one, if your name is attached. From a PR perspective, Glassdoor is adding few details on what’s changed, why or how they’ll move forward to rebuild user trust.
  • The Walt Disney Company is waging what Axios has dubbed “the most expensive proxy battle in history” as it fends off a challenge from Nelson Peltz. Because so many retailer investors have bought into Disney, the company must case a wide net to get its message out ahead of the vote. It’s turning to social media ads, dedicated social media pages, phone calls, landing pages, videos and more. Peltz is also fighting back with his own digital assets but also traditional media relations, including a profile in the New York Times. Whose public relations will reign supreme?
  • The Department of Justice and 16 attorneys general offices are suing Apple, alleging it engages in antitrust behavior to keep its iPhone at the top of the cellphone game. Among the issues cited in the suit are how iPhone handles texts with rival Android (those infamous green bubbles), blocking developers from creating tap-to-pay technology that could compete with its own and more, The Verge reported. This is all part of a broader antitrust movement against big tech companies in both the U.S. and the European Union. But if the suit is successful, we could see increased competition and options on cellphones — which could lead to cool new tools for many communicators.

Allison Carter is editor-in-chief of PR Daily. Follow her on Twitter or LinkedIn.

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