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The Power of Online Communities : A Collision Conference 2021 Talk

Yesterday's talks saw two huge names in social media accepting their responsibility to the wider world and their users. Jen Wong (Reddit) and Chris Jaffe (Youtube) spoke with Joshua Cohen (Tubefilter) about how much more apparent it has become, especially during our time in lockdown, that social media and their platforms are undeniably important not just as a lifeline to those who are otherwise isolated, but also as something that has a great impact on the world, its' culture and politics. 





Our time during the pandemic has seen a huge boost in the usage of, and variety in using methods of, social media. Youtube's Chris Jaffe Reported a 45 % increase in streaming as well as, a huge increase in the number of streamers, while Reddit's Jen Wong reported a definite increase in the number of users posting and an acceleration in the growth of Reddit as a social network overall.






Whereas before, many users of both platforms tended to fill gaps in their daily lives, or check out those popular memes making the rounds, now both platforms have seen a huge boost in e-learning content, with many users also turning to the different communities for advise on navigating pandemic life; from social welfare and unemployment to 'Breadit' an the like giving tips and tricks on everyone's favourite hobbies for improving lockdown life. Both Jen and Chris even mention that the huge growth seen in cooking content has become a staple and favourite of theirs as it clearly has been for the vast quantity of both networks' users. 




However with social media playing a bigger role in everyone's daily lives than ever before there is a huge importance placed around platforms' responsibility to moderate content for hate speech and ensure that different communities and their views are not only represented but also, that everyone is educated to have a common understanding and promote peace, love and prosperity in these difficult times. Reddit applies basic community standard rules to all of their groups to promote that, but these individual communities can layer more rules on top of this to promote helpful advice, deny bullying and downgrading content as such. Jen Wong mentioned that this seems to be working as Reddit has become more influential, it also has, during the pandemic at least, become a place where people post their concerns and worries, they can receive real and helpful advice, faster than ever before. Youtube's Chris Jaffe, Also mentioned that the toxic comment section of the past has slowly been becoming a friendlier and more supportive community where content creators actually feel appreciated and receive helpful comments on additional content they can create. Of course, this has not been achieved without work, Chris Jaffe states, the four R's system is how youtube has approached content in lockdown. 1: removing prohibited content, 2: raising the voices of authority such as government bodies and the world health organisation, 3: reducing borderline content, and 4: rewarding top content creators that are having a positive impact. While a simple system in effect, it has begun to bring about real change on the platform. 


Both Jen and Chris suggested that their responsibility won't end with the pandemic and that social media will continue to grow in both importance and influence, thus Reddit needs to make their platform more friendly to non-English speaking communities and youtube will have to keep monitoring their comment section and their content creators to ensure a wider community is better educated on the social issues facing them and others. Of course, we all hope they keep up the popularisation of cooking content, after all, where would we be without 'breadit'. 


Jack Glidewell- Senior Editor, writer, and podcaster at Social Songbird.


The Power of Online Communities : A Collision Conference 2021 Talk Reviewed by Jack Glidewell on Wednesday, April 21, 2021 Rating: 5

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