I awoke on Friday morning on the West Coast, logged online, and did what I have been doing every single morning for years. I opened my browser and immediately went to Reddit.com to see what top stories, memes, and videos were trending. After all, it is "the front page of the internet."
But what I saw was unlike anything I've ever seen before. Nearly every single post on the main landing page for Reddit, which is viewed by millions of people every day, was dedicated to bashing the many U.S. Senators who accepted political donations from the telecom industry and did not speak out against the Federal Communications Commission's upcoming vote to gut net neutrality.
I scrolled, it continued, and felt like it didn't end.
Each post had a similar prompt: This is my representative, and they sold out this nation to the telecom lobby for _____ dollars, listing the donation amount received. Other posts, like this one on r/ NewJersey praising Senator Corey Booker, called out representatives who stood in favor of Net Neutrality.
While the front page will often contain similar posts when major news stories break, especially political, this is very different. These posts are not popping out of big subreddits like r/technology or r/news, which have loads of subscribers, they're coming from smaller communities, such as r/Wisconsin and r/Philadelphia.
When reached by phone, a representative for Reddit confirmed that there was no vote manipulation or favoring taking place on the site on Friday and seemed equally shocked with the wave of posts.
The company has long been a supporter of a free and open internet, and even loaded its site with huge red ads on Friday . They're impossible to miss when visiting the site.
Reddit CEO Steve Huffman, aka spez , posted a lengthy blog post on Monday , praising Redditors for their commitment to the issue, and driving home the point that this is an issue that affects everyone, not just coastal elites.
"Our goal in this effort is to keep the personal dimension of the open internet top of mind for everyone who wants to repeal net neutrality," Huffman wrote. "We know how powerful redditors banding together for a common cause can be, so our focus will continue to be on amplifying your voices, from Capitol Hill to — if it comes to it — the Supreme Court."
The Federal Communications Commission will vote to end net neutrality on Dec. 14, but regardless of the outcome of that vote, Reddit knows that this will be a long and tumultuous battle that it's ready to fight.
TL;DR: Don't mess with Reddit.