It describes the origins of the hashtag that grew into a user revolution.
The hashtag was most recently revived over the weekend in response to the firing of a popular Reddit staffer, with volunteer moderators shutting down a huge number of subreddits in protest and making entire sections of the site temporarily go dark. In a second piece to follow, I’ll discuss how this most recent use of the hashtag provides so-called “consumer revolt” cover for what is essentially an anti-progressive agenda. But to understand the most recent turn of events, let’s first consider the original #RedditRevolt.
The protestors behind #RedditRevolt claim to be resisting censorship and championing freedom of speech — for the good of the site’s community as a whole. But the rhetoric they employ reveals their true anxiety: that online spaces previously belonging almost exclusively to young, straight, white men are opening up to other demographics — and even more alarming, the cultures and values of those spaces are starting to shift to accommodate these new participants. Far from protecting free speech, #RedditRevolt is thus actually about maintaining the hostility of certain areas of the web toward people dubbed undesirable, from women of color to LGBT people, and about harassing those who would make virtual spaces truly public by safeguarding the ability of all kinds of people to participate.
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And keep your eyes peeled for Part 2, where I will discuss how the meaning of the hashtag shifted in the wake of the firing of beloved AMA coordinator Victoria Taylor.