Lamar Smith is Reddit’s public enemy number one. He’s the backer of the much-despised Stop Onlne Piracy Act. So it makes sense that redditors in r/politics were outraged when they discovered another bill the congressman from Texas is sponsoring—one that, they believed, would give the federal government unheard-of powers in tracking our movements online.
With calls for porn companies to black out on Feb 23, Reddit was about to take over the Internet again with a popular protest.
Except there was one problem.
Reddit’s outrage was predicated on a major misunderstanding. There’s very little in the act, called the Protecting Children From Internet Pornographers Act (PCIP), that brought about new powers for the federal government. As I wrote on Thursday, PCIP would simply turn a common practice among Internet service providers—holding on to temporary IP addresses—into formal law.
Where did the misunderstanding come from? The culprit is a wildly overstated headline that started it all. Perhaps Dizzy_Slip, the redditor who posted the link to r/politics, didn’t realize that The Kansan is the student newspaper at the University of Kansas.
Or maybe that didn’t didn’t matter.
Outraged protests are so much fun.
Shipping company UPS almost fell victim to Reddit’s mob anger. A pic on r/WTF purportedly showing a UPS delivery person lazily slinging a delivery onto a front porch went straight to the front page. A wave of anti-UPS hatred was forming. But before it could crest, it dissipated.
Why? A UPS representative jumped into the thread. Debbie Curtis-Magley showed exactly how companies should engage customers on Reddit: directly, respectfully, and honestly. By asking questions rather than getting defensive, she rapidly proved UPS had nothing to do with the sloppy delivery.
In other news, moderation on Reddit is going robotic, a writer for The Wire did a live interview, and Gawker’s Adrian Chen failed to make peace with redditors.