The machinations of Reddit in the 2012 election cycle have just begun in earnest, with a subgroup of Reddit users (Redditors) raising $15,000 in funding in 48 hours for Rob Zerban, the Democratic challenger running to unseat Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI).
Gawker’s Adrian Chen wasn’t amused by the news. On Tuesday, he published a piece titled “Reddit Has Gone Mad With Power,” explaining why he thought that the ascent of Reddit as a potential political force was for the worse — namely that Reddit’s “digital mobs…are not well-suited for thoughtful, sustained participation in the political process.”
Reddit co-founder Alexis Ohanian leapt to his website’s defense on Twitter Wednesday, arguing that Chen’s criticisms could easily be leveled at any other social media website, including Twitter. What followed was a robust debate between the two tech minds over whether Reddit was primarily a “community” in the words of Chen, or a “platform/service,” as Ohanian maintained.
Here’s their back-and-forth, via Tweet-culling service Storfiy:
For what it’s worth, the Redditors behind “Operation Pull Ryan,” as the effort to unseat Rep. Ryan is called, were driven to engage in the political cycle by their vehement disgust with two main pieces of legislation. The Stop Online Piracy Act, which would give the government untold power to force U.S. websites to cut ties with foreign sites accused of piracy and which is currently awaiting more hearings in the House before a full vote, and the National Defense Authorization Act, which President Obama signed into law on Saturday despite “serious reservations” over the indefinite detention provisions, enhanced interrogation, and the ability for law enforcement to conduct anti-terror operations on U.S. soil.