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Reddit Looks to Expand the Use of its ‘Reddit Talks’ Audio Rooms Option

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Reddit Looks to Expand the Use of its 'Reddit Talks' Audio Rooms Option


While audio social has lost some momentum after the sudden rise of Clubhouse early last year, the capacity to tune in and connect with people in a less intrusive, more relaxed live format still holds significant appeal, and significant potential in various forms, and in various apps.

And while Clubhouse and Twitter Spaces are the most prominent platforms in this respect, Reddit, too, has been seeing success with its own ‘Reddit Talk’ option, which it first launched last April, and has since been quietly expanding to more of its highly engaged communities, offering another way to extend Reddit chats to another medium.

Indeed, Reddit says that more than 1,000 subreddits now have access to the option, which has lead to more than 250% growth in daily active listeners of Reddit Talk sessions over the last three months.

That’s significant, and given the rising interest, Reddit’s now looking to put more focus on Reddit Talk chats, as it works to expand its user engagement options, and the overall utility of the app.

First off, Reddit’s making Reddit Talk chats more prominent, with a new, Twitter Spaces-like feed of live chats in progress, within the subreddits that you follow, along the top bar of the app.

That’s a big shift, and Reddit users will definitely have ‘feelings’ about it. Reddit’s highly engaged communities are generally resistant to change, especially anything that dilutes the focus of the app, and that will likely see some backlash to this update, which will change user home screens.

But it could also get more people tuning in to relevant chats, which could be a big step for the app.

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The advantage Reddit has in this respect is that in launching Reddit Talk within specific communities, it can highlight in-progress chats to the followers of each, ensuring optimal discovery, without users having to sort through a massive list of in-progress chats for themselves (ala Twitter and Clubhouse) to find something potentially of interest.

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That’s more specifically a problem on Twitter Spaces – if you tap on the Spaces tab in the app right now, you better be into NFTs, because virtually every live chat at any given time is focused on NFTs and/or crypto, with few alternative conversations weaved in-between.

Discovery remains the bugbear of both Spaces and Clubhouse, and Reddit’s approach, much like Facebook rolling its audio rooms out to specific influencers and groups, could actually be a much better way to maximize user discovery, and interest in the option.

This new top-of-feed display could be an annoyance to some, but it could also be a great way to maximize Reddit Talk engagement.

Reddit’s also launching Talk recordings, enabling users to tune into chats after the fact.

Starting today, when a redditor visits a Reddit Talk post from a past live session, they’ll be able to listen to a recording of the conversation. The new feature includes a playback bar that enables redditors to skip to any timestamp, pause or unpause, and fast-forward or rewind 10 seconds at a time.

Reddit Talk update

That’s another key step, helping to boost the utility of Reddit audio chats, which could also provide more incentive for users to broadcast in the app, as a means to build their profile and following on the platform.

Reddit’s also adding text and emojis to help users participate in a Talk.

“Previously, redditors who were listening to a Talk were able to raise their hand to join the stage, but couldn’t comment in real time. Enabling comments and emojis makes Talks easier to engage with, even without speaking.

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Reddit Talk update

And finally, it’s also bringing Reddit Talk to the web, providing more ways for listeners to tune in.

Reddit Talk update

Again, while some of the air has been let out of the social audio hype bubble, for many users, it’s now become a habitual, regular option, which, while not being as big a deal as it once was, has provided more utility, and more options for connection in each app.

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On Reddit, that could actually be significant, providing an alternative way for Redditors to connect beyond clever comment replies and awards allocated by other users. Which could lead to new communities forming, stronger bonds in each group, and more opportunities for Reddit to play a bigger connective role in the broader social media space.

Really, it’s a logical progression for Reddit communication, and while it’s a little different to other social audio options, those differences may actually be of benefit to Reddit’s specific use case, and boosting utility in the app.



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‘Crime not to help’: South Korean ex-SEAL has no Ukraine regrets

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South Korean Navy SEAL turned YouTuber Ken Rhee told AFP he has no regrets about his decision to fight in Ukraine

South Korean Navy SEAL turned YouTuber Ken Rhee told AFP he has no regrets about his decision to fight in Ukraine – Copyright AFP Jung Yeon-je

Cat Barton and Kang Jin-kyu

A former South Korean Navy SEAL turned YouTuber who risked jail time to leave Seoul and fight for Ukraine says it would have been a “crime” not to use his skills to help.

Ken Rhee, an ex-special warfare officer, signed up at the Ukrainian Embassy in Seoul the moment President Volodymyr Zelensky asked for global volunteers and was fighting on the front lines near Kyiv by early March.

To get there, he had to break South Korean law — Seoul banned its citizens from travelling to Ukraine, and Rhee, who was injured in a fall while leading a special operations patrol there, was met at the airport by 15 police officers on his return.

But the celebrity ex-soldier, who has a YouTube channel with 700,000 followers and documented much of his Ukraine experience on his popular Instagram account, says he has no regrets.

“You’re walking down the beach and you see a sign by the water saying ‘no swimming’ — but you see someone drowning. It’s a crime not to help. That’s how I see it,” he told AFP.

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Rhee was born in South Korea but raised in the United States. He attended the Virginia Military Institute and planned to join the US Navy SEALS, but his father — a “patriot”, he says — convinced his son to return to South Korea to enlist.

He served for seven years, undergoing both US and Korean SEAL training and doing multiple stints in war zones in Somalia and Iraq before leaving to set up a defence consultancy.

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“I have the skillset. I have the experience. I was in two different wars, and going to Ukraine, I knew I could help,” he said, adding that he viewed breaking South Korea’s passport law to leave as equivalent to a “traffic violation”.

– Backlash in Korea –

But the reaction in South Korea — where Rhee shot to fame as a trainer in the popular YouTube series “Fake Men” — was swift and unforgiving.

“It was instant. People in Korea, they just criticised me about breaking the law,” said Rhee.

His critics claim the 38-year-old’s decision was criminally irresponsible, and point to his posting of war footage on his YouTube and Instagram accounts as evidence of showboating.

Rhee says he tries not to let the furore get to him. “I think it’s pretty obvious who the good guys are and who the bad guys are,” he said of Russia and Ukraine. 

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On his first day on the frontline in Irpin — which he describes as “the Wild West” and “chaos” — he says he witnessed Russian war crimes.

“I saw a civilian get shot. He was driving… and they shot him through the windshield and he died in front of us,” he said.

“It was like: there’s my proof. There’s definitely war crimes going on. It reminded me and my teammates what we were doing and why we were there,” he said.

Because of his military training, Rhee was told to set up his own team, so he recruited other volunteers with combat experience and set up a multi-national special operations group.

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“I was eating Canadian MREs. My gun was from the Czech Republic. I have a Javelin missile from the United States. I have a rocket that’s from Germany… but nothing is Korean,” he said.

He tried to take his Korean-made night vision goggles but was not given government export permission. Seoul has provided non-lethal aid to Kyiv, but Rhee said they could do more.

“Korea has state-of-the-art equipment… they’re very good at making weapons,” he said.

– ‘See you in Taiwan’ –

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Russia said this week that 13 South Koreans had travelled to Ukraine — including four who were killed. Seoul said it was trying to verify the claims.

Although Rhee did not know the fate of all his teammates, he said “a lot of my friends have died”.

“I don’t want my friends’ sacrifices to be forgotten,” he said, adding that he plans to write a book — and maybe a screenplay — about his team’s experiences.

But first, he needs to deal with the official repercussions of his trip. He is quietly optimistic South Korea’s new conservative administration won’t put him in jail.

Rhee is not allowed to leave the country until his case is resolved, and is receiving treatment for his injuries. But he hopes one day to fight alongside his teammates again, for a cause they believe in.

The joke as people left the frontline was: “See you in Taiwan,” he said, referring darkly to the risk that Beijing will follow Moscow’s lead and invade a neighbouring democracy.

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