Donald Trump’s Reddit AMA Was as Controversial as You’d Expect
Donald Trump hosted a Reddit AMA (Ask Me Anything) session last night, and before he’d even sat down at his computer to answer the questions fielded to him (or, as is more likely the case, his intern sat down to answer them) there was plenty of controversy surrounding the event.
For one, Trump’s decision to host the AMA session on the subreddit r/The_Donald attracted plenty of criticism. Whereas president Barack Obama’s own Ask Me Anything session back in 2012 was hosted on r/IAMA, the designated forum for the site’s Q&A sessions, Trump’s decision to host his on a subreddit that is moderated by and consists of his own supporters was deemed a cowardly move, especially considering r/The_Donald’s history of banning critical users and deleting comments featuring dissenting opinions. Even in the “media information” posted by the site’s moderators stated that “the AMA will have tons of removed comments,” adding: “That’s sort of a mark of pride for us.”
Then came the AMA itself. In total, Trump answered 12 questions fielded to him solely by those already pledging their support to him. One of the 12 questions he answered was “do you ever get tired of winning?” No criticisms of his divisive campaign were addressed, because very few were allowed to remain on the sub. In fact, scrolling through several thousand of the AMA sessions 200,000 comments this morning and I have found zero overtly critical questions. Coming just hours after Trump publicly advocated that Russia hack Hillary Clinton’s emails, an unprecedented move from a presidential candidate, and it’s safe to safe that the overwhelming amount of praise heaped upon the GOP candidate was suspicious to say the least.
r/The_Donald is widely known for its sycophancy on Reddit. Commonly referring to Trump as the “God Emperor,” in the past they’ve forced Reddit to actively alter its algorithms as a result of them “rigging” the site’s top posts, by way of working with one another in order to upvote their own content – such as photos of Trump or Trump-related memes – to the front page. As such a new subreddit was spawned in its wake, with r/EnoughTrumpSpam serving as a counter-reaction to r/The_Donald, mocking the presidential candidate and the denizens of his unofficial subreddit in order to provide balance to the slew of pro-Trump content that littered r/all, the subreddit which hosts all of the top-rated content on the site.
As the Donald Trump AMA kicked off last night, r/EnoughTrumpSpam began furiously upvoting an artist’s portrait of the presidential candidate, which depicts him completely naked and with a penis size that can only be deemed “unflattering.” While Trump was answering a handful of questions during the Q&A session, the portrait received a higher ranking on r/all, thus meaning that Reddit viewers were simultaneously treated to an Ask Me Anything session with the United States’ potential president, and the brain-melting image of said presidential hopeful’s micropenis. As you can image, r/The_Donald were less than happy with this series of events.
Reddit CEO Steve Huffman, who goes by the username “spez” on the site, stepped in to explain why the Donald Trump AMA didn’t make its way to the top of r/all, claiming that it was a result of “anti-cheating techniques” that have been used by the site “for years.” He added: “While a post is young, the score we display is not the same as the score we sort by. We do this so that spammers, cheaters, and brigaders don’t know if their tactics are working. A vote – valid or not – appears to count, but over time the displayed score becomes more accurate. This affects all posts the same, and has for a long time.” He also said that “only 4% of Reddit visits r/all,” so the AMA’s success on the subreddit wouldn’t greatly impact the amount of views it received.
That didn’t prevent it from raising the ire of r/The_Donald, though, who called for Huffman to step down from his position at Reddit. One of the top posts in the past 24 hours on the subreddit reads: “Hey spez fuck you and your cuck admin team.” Another said Reddit was “scared” of the Trump AMA.
What’s most surprising about this whole debacle is just how innocuous the AMA was. Considering Trump was essentially given a platform free of criticism in which he could directly communicate with those who have already established they will be voting for him, he used it to say “NASA is wonderful!” and reiterate that “my plan is the exact opposite of Crooked Hillary Clinton.” You’d have to imagine that for even the most die-hard, unflappable Trump supporters, it was a little disappointing to have the God Emperor show up and then fail to bestow upon them any new wisdom, aside from vague proclamations that his competitor is wrong. Again.