7 things Reddit should do with the money it made off celebrity nudes

Reddit should probably write “masturbation” on the memo line of its next check to its server company. Reddit profited from The Fappening, a subreddit on the website where users were sharing stolen images of nude celebrities like Jennifer Lawrence, for nearly a week before they shut it down. As Wired reports, Reddit made enough money from this short-lived subreddit to run its servers for an entire month. Even though Reddit has been widely critiqued in the wake of this scandal, the CEO Yishan Wong reports that they are “unlikely to make changes to our existing site content policies in response to this specific event.”

Given the fact that Reddit plans to stay the course, Kelly Faircloth of Jezebel asks what Reddit will do now with the money it has made from these stolen images. She suggests that Reddit “pull out the corporate checkbook or hit the refund button.” Here are seven more suggestions:

1) Hire a team of moderators to make sure this never happens again.

According to the Wired report, Reddit waited nearly six days to shut down TheFappening. If Reddit had a more stringent moderation system in place that permanently banned people who were, you know, actively committing criminal acts on the website, maybe Reddit wouldn’t have made so much money off of those nude celebrity photos in the first place.

Based on the Reddit FAQ, though, moderators on the website are “not employees of or retained by Reddit.” Rather, Reddit moderators are the people who “initiated the particular community and their appointees.” Being dedicated to free speech is one thing, but when your website serves as a notorious safe haven for criminal behavior, maybe it’s time to pony up some cash and buy yourself an in-house moderation team instead of relying on the collective wisdom of your user base.

If only Reddit could find an unexpected surplus of cash lying around somewhere… Wait, is that a giant pile of cash generated by a sex crime? Phew!

2) Give Reddit a makeover.

If Reddit users, as Business Insider reports, are having a hard time finding a charity that will accept their guilt money for sharing nude photos of female celebrities, Reddit might have a hard time giving their earnings to charity as well. If that’s the case, the least Reddit could do would be to make their website a little easier on the eyes.

As it stands, the supposed “front page of the Internet” is a real eyesore and it could use a fresh coat of paint. For starters: A new logo, a more intuitive user interface, and a better font. I understand that the website’s sparse, utilitarian aesthetic appeals to the dedicated Internet user and that it probably reduces loading times but, let’s be honest, they could stand to be just a little more creative within their constraints.

3) Hire a research team to figure out how to accommodate female Internet users.

Of all social networking websites, Reddit is one of the most dude-heavy with a user base that is nearly three-quarters male. At this point, the higher-ups at Reddit probably don’t lose sleep over the gendered lopsidedness of their website, especially not when they can rake in bales of cash from the kind of young men that would circulate stolen celebrity nudes. But if Reddit likes money and they would like more of it, trying to increase the number of women who patronize their website would be a good place to start.

But like a college boy who needs to throw out some empty pizza boxes and hide his porn before he can invite his girlfriend into his room, Reddit probably needs to clean up a few things before female users begin to visit the site in the same numbers that men do. Instead of pizza boxes, though, Reddit needs to clean up the misogynist hate group that the Southern Poverty Law Center has called a “woman-hating site” and its repeated child pornography scandals and the users who regularly harass female video game critics and developers.

On second thought, though, maybe women should just keep avoiding Reddit. Photos of nude celebrities aren’t the only morally dubious traffic that Reddit profits from. And there’s a difference, after all, between having a few pizza boxes lying around and between having a room that is literally full of garbage.

4) Help prosecute the Reddit users who spread the photos.

Jennifer Lawrence and Kate Upton’s lawyers are both warning that they will prosecute people who post and share their nude photos. Maybe Reddit could help pay off some of those legal fees considering that they reaped a quarter of a billion pageviews from folks who were likely visiting the side to “fap” to the stolen images. In the days following the leak, Reddit was one of the central locations where these photos were shared. So if the owners and operators of Reddit are capable of feeling guilt, maybe they could try to use some of their profit to contain the further spread of these photos.

5) Hire new people to run the site.

When your website’s reputation has suffered a permanent blow in the public eye, maybe it’s time to start fresh. T.C. Sottek of Verge declared that “Reddit is a failed state,” and he’s right; Reddit can’t reform itself when its CEO sees himself as the leader of a “government” that has no obligation to have any sort of moral center, even in the wake of a crime as large-scale as this one. If Reddit is a government, Sottek notes, it’s “a techno-libertarian’s wet dream.”

So instead of just giving Reddit an aesthetic makeover, maybe the supreme dictator of Reddit could take a step back and hand over the reins of Reddit to a new marketing team that could figure out how to get Reddit in the headlines for reasons other than criminal acts and child pornography.

The only problem? The site would need a new name: One that would simultaneously signal its fresh, new attitude while maintaining enough continuity so as to avoid confusing longtime users. “Reddit” started out as a playful contraction of “read it” but what if they swapped out “red” for another color word instead? How about “Blueit?”

6) Turn off Reddit’s servers for an entire month.

Given the fact that Reddit has already made enough money to keep its servers on for an entire month, maybe they can now afford to not run their servers for an entire month. They can approach it as a time out for the misbehaving children who further tarnished the reputation of their website. They could replace the front page of Reddit with a simple message scrawled in that hideous font: “This is why you can’t have nice things.”

7) Buy a rare earth magnet and use it to destroy Reddit.

Forget aesthetics, forget moderation, and forget rebranding. Maybe the best thing Reddit could do to correct the harm it has done would be to literally destroy itself. The CEO could shut down the site and run away to a private island, leaving the world with one less watering hole for Internet trolls. Instead of simply deleting Reddit, though, they should use their new bundle of cash to go out in style. They should buy several large neodymium magnets and go to town on their servers until Reddit is destroyed. Don’t worry, Reddit. We would always have beautiful memories of misogyny to look back on.

Photo via Casey Fleser/Flickr (CC BY 2.0)

Samantha Allen

Samantha Allen

Samantha Allen writes about sex, sexuality, and gender. She's a senior reporter at the Daily Beast, but she's also contributed to Paste, Hello Giggles, Salon, the Advocate, Mic, and others. Allen holds a doctorate in women's, gender, and sexuality studies from Emory University, and her piece "Why Bisexual Men Are Still Fighting to Convince Us They Exist" won the GLAAD Media Award for Outstanding Digital Journalism Article in 2018.