"Not Safe For Brand" (NSFB) Or How Reddit Will Censor Controversial Content In The Future

Interesting how Reddit hides its actual motivations in plain sight. Those motivations are to protect its brand so it can quit being an old internet anarchy zone and start being a new internet Facebook-style walled garden with fake roses. Its mechanism for doing this is the Not Safe For Brand (NSFB) brand_safe category:

What is nsfb? (Not Safe For Brand)

Reddit's api returns an undocumented brand_safe field for content. It appears to be applied on a subreddit basis.

Snew displays a nsfb indicator when a post has a false brand_safe value.

It is believed that all subreddits are nsfb until manually reviewed as safe

Reddit has been candid about this intention as it tries to pump up the value of the company so it can be sold. The big dream of dot-com companies everywhere is to sell not a product, since the actual product does not make money, but a company because of its advertising value to others. Reddit is basically a giant SEO farm and a dream for any marketing agency, but they want to sell for billions and not the piddly hundred-millions they have been offered in the past.

The founders admit as much in their public interactions:

Reddit boasts 234 million unique users and hosts links posted by people which are grouped around Subreddits - categories for just about anything.

But the site hasn't had the best reputation for reasonable debate and Reddit often being seen as a Wild West with often-offensive comments.

...Richard Broughton, research director at Ampere Analysis, told CNBC by email. "Part of the challenge will simply be convincing advertisers that the changes it has made to its policies are having an effect, and that Reddit is now 'brand-safe'."

..."The challenge we have is helping brands have a home on Reddit. What brands do is they either pay or they try to be more sneaky about it and pretend to be users and when they get outed that doesn't go so well. So I think there is a product in that that doesn't exist yet to give brands a legitimate organic home on Reddit, that could go a long way of reducing some of that tension so brands can have their own communities they can moderate," Huffman said, discussing potential future ad products.

The "brand safe" factor bit Google recently when advertisers noticed that their ads on YouTube were playing on controversial content. Business loves what is non-controversial, which is why it likes Leftist dogma; what is safer than inclusive, egalitarian, and pacifistic notions? Facebook deploys an army of censors, and Twitter is currently purging questionable accounts.

This is the transition between the old internet and the new internet. The old internet was content-driven, which meant that a range of opinions were expected and wanted; the new internet is advertising-driven, so bourgeois aesthetics of ethical safety are mandatory. The great irony here is that in removing the wild west from the internet, these large businesses are killing its appeal and turning it into (ugh) daytime television.

In the meantime, Snew/Ceddit reminds us of how Reddit has transitioned from being the last old internet social media site to a Facebook clone, at least intellectually:

Neither Alexis [u/kn0thing] nor I created Reddit to be a bastion of free speech
— u/spez 2015

A bastion of free speech on the World Wide Web? I bet they would like it," he replies. [reddit]'s the digital form of political pamplets.
— u/kn0thing 2012

We will tirelessly defend the right to freely share information on reddit in any way we can, even if it is offensive or discusses something that may be illegal. — u/reddit 2012

We want to democratize the traditional model by giving editorial control to the people who use the site, not those who run it.
— Reddit FAQ 2005

We've always benefited from a policy of not censoring content
— u/kn0thing 2008

We stand for free speech. This means we are not going to ban distasteful subreddits. We will not ban legal content even if we find it odious or if we personally condemn it. Not because that's the law in the United States - because as many people have pointed out, privately-owned forums are under no obligation to uphold it - but because we believe in that ideal independently, and that's what we want to promote on our platform. We are clarifying that now because in the past it wasn't clear, and (to be honest) in the past we were not completely independent and there were other pressures acting on reddit. Now it's just reddit, and we serve the community, we serve the ideals of free speech, and we hope to ultimately be a universal platform for human discourse (cat pictures are a form of discourse).
— u/yishan 2012

Possibly Reddit intends to monetize itself by selling both its brand and user information, which might be why Reddit cofounder Alexis Ohanian and his consulting firm Antique Jetpack are palling it up with "global intelligence" company STRATFOR, which leads us to wonder what Antique Jetpack has been doing for the past seven years.


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