News & Opinion | June 29, 2018 11:49 am

Reddit’s Reasoning for Keeping Anonymity on the Internet

The head of the site says people are more "true to themselves" when they remain anonymous.

Steve Huffman CEO, Reddit, delivers remarks on "Redesigning Reddit" during the third day of Web Summit in Altice Arena on November 08, 2017 in Lisbon, Portugal. (Horacio Villalobos - Corbis/Getty Images)
Corbis via Getty Images

All you need to do to post on any of Reddit’s 1.2 million forums is an email address, a username and a password. You don’t need to give any details about yourself, not even your gender, birthday or real name. Steve Huffman, the site’s co-founder and CEO, said that “privacy is built into Reddit,” reports The Atlantic. In fact, that anonymity makes the site “more like a conversation one has in real life,” Huffman claims. “When people detach from their real-world identities, they can be more authentic, more true to themselves,” he said, according to The Atlantic. 

Reddit users do maintain one consistent identity through their usernames, with an associated “karma” score that tells other users how often they’ve been up- or down-voted — basically, how trustworthy and informative they’ve been in the past. Huffman said that people “care about their reputations on Reddit. There’s some stake to it.”

As the world starts to question the role of social media, anonymity might help Reddit, because they can avoid data-breach scandals like those that Facebook, Yahoo and Equifax have all faced in recent years. But the site is also notorious for hosting trolls, bullies and harassers, who might not care about their subpar Reddit karma score.