David Frum

10.18.12

Reddit v Gawker: Why Can't Both Lose?

Most of you are probably aware of the flame war being fought by Reddit and Gawker, two of the lowest-common denominator sites on the web. The Daily Beast's Alex Klein correctly paints this as a battle between creeps on one side and creeps on the other. Here's his takedown of Gawker's faux outrage about "creepshots:"

In 2009, the blog linked to “creepshots” of their own: naked pictures of tween icon Vanessa Hudgens, taken when she was just 17 years old. Gawker has a whole “Upskirt” page, devoted to Lindsay Lohan. Elsewhere on the site, it reproduces scores of non-consensually-grabbed photos—and links to other sites that show the full nude upskirt or naked pictures. Last year, it published a lurid account of an alleged one-night-stand with Tea Party darling Christine O’Donnell—that man had his anonymity protected. And last month, it ran a post “Sympathy and Science for Those Who Want to Have Sex With Children,” by Cord Jefferson, describing pedophilia as a “sexual orientation.” When it comes to all flavors of gross, objectionable, privacy-violating content, Gawker boasts gigabytes—that’s sort of the point.

If the two sites wanted to be really honest, they'd actively seek to outdo each other in perversion and crassness.

Instead, Redditors stand behind free speech (which is deeply undermined by banning Gawker links), and Gawker writers portray themselves as leading the charge against anonymity and creepiness. (Just not enough to turn down a paycheck from one of the leading purveyors of such content.) This whole thing should make most people wish nothing but failure to both enterprises.