Reddit recently revealed its plans to build a dedicated news section on its site — and already the community is pushing back against the change.
Reddit announced the News tab beta last week (the alpha was available for a while before that), along with details about how it was planning to integrate into the core Reddit experience. The tab will be a landing for content surfaced from news-based communities around the site — though Reddit has yet to specify which subreddits in particular.
Users can filter their news by various subtopics, from the broad to the specific — for example, you can follow sports in general or baseball in particular. Here’s what it the tab looks like for me today:
This new effort could be an attempt by Reddit to capitalize on the areas where Facebook is floundering, that platform having been embroiled in a heated debate over the merits of its news. Indeed, it almost looks like Facebook’s now-defunct news-based News Feed, “Explore,” has been transposed into Reddit.
If the responses to the announcement are any indication, Redditors aren’t particularly enthused about the News — official responses to their inquiries are getting hundreds or even thousands of downvotes. Feedback so far seems to range from “this seems kind of useless” to “why are you testing this one on platform and not the others?”
One concern that stands out is that Reddit will become yet another social platform through which fake news can be generated and distributed. Considering Facebook and Twitter have both had to deal with this, it’s not an unreasonable fear. Other users have pointed out that just because Redditors upvote things doesn’t necessarily mean its news, and bias might ensure one side of the news gets the lion’s share of attention.
Their response reflects the general Redditors’ attitude towards change — see also: the brouhaha over the site’s redesign. It’s not just the fact that something is changing. Redditors want to see change that means something to them, not change for the sake of it.
We’ll see if Reddit News will sink or swim with the site’s general population soon. Reddit says its News tab will be released to the desktop site this summer.