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‘Stop the hate’ online, UN chief pleads on Holocaust Day

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A person visits the Holocaust Memorial, in Berlin, Germany on January 27, 2023, on International Holocaust Remembrance Day

A person visits the Holocaust Memorial, in Berlin, Germany on January 27, 2023, on International Holocaust Remembrance Day – Copyright AFP Michal Cizek

The UN secretary-general warned of social media’s role in spreading violent extremism around the globe as he marked Holocaust Remembrance Day on Friday, urging policy makers to help stop online hate.

Antonio Guterres said parts of the internet were turning into “toxic waste dumps for hate and vicious lies” that were driving “extremism from the margins to the mainstream.”

“Today, I am issuing an urgent appeal to everyone with influence across the information ecosystem,” Guterres said at a commemoration ceremony at the United Nations. “Stop the hate. Set up guardrails. And enforce them.”

He accused social media platforms and advertisers of profiting off the spread of hateful content.

“By using algorithms that amplify hate to keep users glued to their screens, social media platforms are complicit,” added Guterres. “And so are the advertisers subsidizing this business model.”

Guterres drew parallels with the rise of Nazism in 1930s Germany, when people didn’t pay attention or protest.

“Today, we can hear echoes of those same siren songs to hate. From an economic crisis that is breeding discontent to populist demagogues using the crisis to seduce voters to runaway misinformation, paranoid conspiracy theories and unchecked hate speech.”

He lamented the rise of anti-Semitism, which he said also reflects a rise of all kinds of hate.

“And what is true for anti-Semitism is true for other forms of hate. Racism. Anti-Muslim bigotry. Xenophobia. Homophobia. Misogyny”

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Reddit files to go public as ‘RDDT’ on NYSE

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Online discussion platform Reddit is looking to ramp up revenue from ads, commerce, and allowing access to its data for training of large language models powering artificial intelligence

Online discussion platform Reddit is looking to ramp up revenue from ads, commerce, and allowing access to its data for training of large language models powering artificial intelligence – Copyright AFP/File SAMUEL ALABI

Glenn CHAPMAN

Reddit on Thursday told US stock regulators that it plans to go public on the New York Stock Exchange under the symbol “RDDT.”

Reddit did not provide details regarding the number or price of shares nor when the initial public offering would occur.

Co-founder and chief executive Steve Huffman said in a letter included with the filing that money raised by the share offering would be used to make Reddit a stronger, bigger company.

Founded in 2005, the platform is home to more than 100,000 online communities devoted to a sweeping range of topics and was visited by an average of 76 million people daily in December, according to a filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission.

“They come to Reddit to participate in a vibrant community, a constantly evolving place where anyone, anywhere, can connect with like-minded people and dive into any topic,” Huffman said in the letter.

“The conversation ranges from the sublime to the ridiculous, the trivial to the existential, the comic to the serious.”

Communities on the platform are referred to as “subreddits,” and one devoted to music star Taylor Swift eclipsed a million members last year, according to the filing.

Reddit had a net loss of $90.8 million in 2023 on revenue of $804 million, according to the filing.

Reddit is known for “Ask Me Anything” sessions during which influential people ranging from tech titans and famous athletes to celebrities and politicians field questions from users.

A Wall Street Bets subreddit fueled a GameStop share runup in 2021 in a frenzy that inspired a US congressional inquiry and a film titled “Dumb Money.”

Huffman credited Reddit communities with “campaigning for net neutrality in 2015, starting the March for Science in 2017, or standing up for retail investors, as r/wallstreetbets did in 2021.”

– AI training –

Plans to bring in money include advertising and licensing data for training large language models (LLMs) that power artificial intelligence, according to the filing.

“Reddit’s vast and unmatched archive of real, timely, and relevant human conversation on literally any topic is an invaluable dataset for a variety of purposes, including search, AI training, and research,” Huffman wrote.

“We expect our data advantage and intellectual property to continue to be a key element in the training of future LLMs.”

Last year moderators of communities at Reddit held a major protest over new fees for developer access to the platform.

Huffman had been unwilling to allow companies that build AI chatbots like ChatGPT to have free access to the site to perfect their large-language models.

AI companies had used a free interface to access the massive amounts of data at Reddit to train artificial intelligence models.

“Reddit needs to be a self-sustaining business, and to do that, we can no longer subsidize commercial entities that require large-scale data use,” Huffman wrote in a Reddit post at the time.

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Pitfalls of the Social Media Advertising Model

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Pitfalls of the Social Media Advertising Model

Paul Romer, Nobel Prize-winning economist and Boston College Professor of Finance takes us through social media’s advertising model and the ethical …

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Reddit Shares Performance Data and Growth Strategy Ahead of Coming IPO

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Reddit Shares Performance Data and Growth Strategy Ahead of Coming IPO

Reddit’s IPO is almost here, with the company filing its S-1 registration with the SEC today, which outlines its current finances and strategic goals, ahead of the pending listing.

And there are some interesting notes in the data provided.

First off, Reddit, which will soon be listed on the New York Stock Exchange under the symbol “RDDT”, claims that it has over 73 million daily active users, and 500 million monthly visitors.

Which is a highly unusual split of daily to monthly active usage.

In general, most social platforms see a 1:1.8 ratio of daily/monthly users, with some variance. Facebook, for example, has 2.11b DAU and 3.07b MAU (x1.45), while Snapchat has 414m DAU/800m MAU (x1.9).

Reddit claims to have a variation of x6.8 DAU to MAU, which is way out of proportion for those averages.

Could that be correct? Could Reddit be seeing a heap more visitors who don’t come back to the site daily?

I mean, I guess, when you factor in people who might be using Reddit to supplement their Google searches, so may visit infrequently. But it’s not exactly a great endorsement of the magnetism of its product if the vast majority of people who look at the app are not interested in coming back regularly.

Reddit reported reaching 430 million monthly actives back in 2019, then switched to sharing daily active user counts from 2020 onwards (it had 52m DAU then). My assumption was that Reddit made this switch because it lost users as a result of changes to its rules, which led to the expulsion of thousands of its most controversial communities. But Reddit’s data here suggests that it hasn’t necessarily lost ground, it just opted for an alternative reporting method. Though it does seem odd.

The documentation also provides a narrative overview of the platform, which it refers to as “a digital city.”

As per Reddit’s S-1:

Reddit is a global, digital city where anyone in the world can join a community to learn from one another, engage in authentic conversations, explore passions, research new hobbies, exchange goods and services, create new communities and experiences, share a few laughs, and find belonging. People are diverse and have multiple interests. Just like in a city, where citizens are part of multiple subcommunities, on Reddit, users often belong to multiple communities.”

“Exchange goods and services?” Not sure what that refers to exactly, but…

Reddit also refers to its “constantly evolving human archive of information”, which it recently sold to Google for $60 million per year.

Which is also interesting when you consider this listing:

Reddit IPO

OpenAI CEO Sam Altman owns 8.7% of the current Reddit shares, which gives him significant sway in the company’s decisions, and it’d be interesting to know what Altman thinks about Reddit selling its user data to Google for use in its competing AI applications.

Presumably he’s okay with it. Which seems unusual in itself.

On specific subreddit usage, Reddit says that:

  • Over 500 subreddits have at least a million subscribers
  • The average active minutes for logged-in users on Reddit is around 20 minutes per day, though that increases to over 35 minutes a day for those who’ve been active on the platform for over five years, and up to 45 minutes a day for those who’ve been active for over seven years.
  • 85% of Redditors say that the platform is “where they learn about the topics they love the most”, while 83% say that conversations on Reddit are more on-topic than any other social media platform

In terms of revenue, Reddit says that it generated $804 million in revenue in 2023, an increase of 21% year-over-year.

Reddit believes that it has significant opportunity to increase its intake in the coming years, particularly due to its current revenue split, which shows that it’s heavily reliant on US users.

Here’s Reddit’s current Average Revenue Per User charts:

Reddit IPO

Reddit’s audience is split almost 50/50 between the U.S. and everywhere else, and as Reddit expands its ad business, that should facilitate more monetization opportunities in other regions.

Reddit also says that it’s exploring new technological developments to enable more ways for customers to invest to grow their business.

Then there’s the Google data-sharing deal:

“We are also in the early stages of monetizing our emerging opportunity in data licensing by allowing third parties to access, search, and analyze data on our platform. In January 2024, we entered into certain data licensing arrangements with an aggregate contract value of $203.0 million and terms ranging from two to three years. We expect a minimum of $66.4 million of revenue to be recognized during the year ending December 31, 2024.”

So Reddit does have some additional avenues of monetization, and it’ll be interesting to see how the Google partnership plays out, and whether that helps to expand Reddit’s exposure and traffic as a result.

Reddit hasn’t provided an overview of the number of shares that it’s looking to offer at this stage, though it has included a plan to offer shares to its power users within its S-1 listing:

We will invite users and moderators to participate in the directed share program in six phased priority tiers. We will assign each eligible participant to a tier based on that participant’s contributions to Reddit. User contributions will be measured in karma (a user’s reputation score that reflects their community contributions). Moderator contributions will be measured by membership and moderator actions on our platform. Tier 1 will include certain users and moderators identified by us who have meaningfully contributed to Reddit community programs. Tier 2 will include users who hold at least 200,000 karma and moderators who have performed at least 5,000 moderator actions. Tier 3 will include users who hold at least 100,000 karma and moderators who have performed at least 2,500 moderator actions. Tier 4 will include users who hold at least 50,000 karma and moderators who have performed at least 1,000 moderator actions. Tier 5 will include users who hold at least 25,000 karma and moderators who have performed at least 500 moderator actions. Tier 6 will include all other eligible users and moderators.

That’s an interesting approach to get more user buy-in, and for a platform that is still reliant on volunteer labor for its moderation and management, that could be a critical assurance move.

Reddit does note that it’s seeking a $5 billion market capitalization valuation, dependent on various factors, with more details to come closer to the listing.

Which is a high price tag for an app with questionable value, but it’s not beyond the realm of possibility, and it could be where Reddit ends up when the next stage is announced.

Reddit’s initial public offering be launched after the SEC completes its review process, which is now well in motion, and set for next month.

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