Liberal broadcaster MSNC is alarmed by GOP frontrunner Donald Trump’s growing support on the popular social media site Reddit.
Describing the businessman and presidential candidate’s supporters on the site as “trolls,” MSNBC goes into an in-depth analysis of Reddit’s growing Trump following.
thousands of users have posted gifs, memes, and links to articles praising Trump and tearing into his perceived opponents. The subreddit r/The_Donald scored nearly 52 million page-views in March, up from 12.6 million in February and 1.3 million in January. In doing so, it lapped the next most popular candidate subreddit, r/SandersForPresident, which attracted 35 million views in March.
MSNBC connects Trump’s phenomenal level of support on Reddit to the platform’s long-simmering base of users who oppose “Social Justice Warriors,” or SJWs for short. MSNBC says that this constituency “feasts” on spreading offensive material.
Longtime users said Trump taps into an anti-PC counterculture within Reddit that feasts on spreading offensive material — a campaign to “fat shame” random women sparked a site-wide civil war and made international news — and then reveling in the response. Certain corners of Reddit have long served as an assembly line for posts mocking “SJWs,” slang for “social justice warriors,” whom they view as a humorless cabal of left-wing oppressors. It just took the right users to recognize the crossover appeal with Trump.
This is, of course, the same group of Redditors that fought against former CEO Ellen Pao’s attempts to effectively turn the site into a safe space, with stricter rules about what could and could not be posted. A series of massive user uprisings referred to as the “Reddit Revolts” eventually forced Pao to resign. The site’s new CEO promised that offensive content would merely be hidden behind age filters and not banned, although he later launched his own crackdown against the site’s more politically incorrect communities on the site.
Interviewing “CisWhiteMaelstrom,” the Reddit user in charge of the site’s largest pro-Trump community. MSNBC also connects Trump’s Reddit-based support to the alternative right, a movement we recently analysed here at Breitbart.
Before getting into campaign politics, Cis had already earned some online notoriety for his regular posts on r/TheRedPill, a hub for anti-feminists and pickup artists that’s frequently accused of spreading misogyny. In communing with Reddit’s social outcasts, he said he saw a kindred spirit in Trump, who already had a following among the “alt right,” an online movement often associated with white nationalism that was concentrated in anonymous message-board sites like 4chan.
Cis, who banned white supremacist and neo-Nazi users from r/The_Donald early on, saw an opening to tap Trump’s natural appeal to Redditors while sanding off some of the alt right’s rougher edges.
MSNBC noted the effectiveness of Trump fans’ trolling tactics on Reddit, although it seems that some Sanders supporters aren’t taking the bait.
A favorite tactic was to direct Trump fans to push deliberately dumb or offensive posts to the front page of Reddit and then laugh at the backlash when users took them seriously. Sanders, and his legion of earnest Reddit fans, became one favorite target as r/The_Donald relentlessly promoted posts mocking the senator’s debate comment that white voters ”don’t know what it’s like to be poor,” to name one of Cis’ favorite examples.
“We see it on the front page of Reddit same as everyone else,” David Fredrick, co-founder of r/Sanders For President, told MSNBC when asked about r/The_Donald’s growth. “We can’t afford to pay too much attention to it … that’s the Republican primary and we have our own primary to win.”