Reddit and 4chan red or blue?

Research Question:

What political affiliation do Reddit and 4chan have (Donald Trump or Hillary Clinton) and why?​

Reddit

Background

Reddit is a massive community of over 150 million users that subdivide themselves in smaller communities known as subreddits. Each subreddit is focused on a specific topic and differs in content, ideologies, user-base, and language.

Hypothesis

Reddit generally favors Donald Trump because of the appealing nature and uniqueness of the main Trump subreddit along with the partial anonymity present on the site.

Hillary Clinton

An examination of the following pro-Hillary subreddits:

  • /r/hillaryclinton
  • /r/EnoughTrumpSpam
  • /r/the_meltdown
Low Turnout of Upvotes and Comments
Static Posts - Some posts remained as the most "popular" even though the upvotes remained roughly the same
Content: Generally has a more serious tone, and is focused more on anti-Trump than pro-Clinton
Few Humorous Posts

Overall impression: The Hillary Clinton subreddits have low user activity, serious tone, and mainly focus on Trump.

Donald Trump

An analysis of /r/The_Donald before, during, and after the election.

Top posts 2 days before the election:

  • Wolf Blitzer is Hillary's most loyal CNN anchor
  • Student speaker removed by force by Hillary staffer in the middle of speech about Hillary being controlled by corporations, banks
  • Reminder: The Clintons made at least $153 million off of speeches. Who else gets paid that much to speak? They were paid that much because the payments were really bribes. Who would own the Clinton White House?

Top posts the night before the election:

  • ATTENTION ISSUES VOTERS: Trump pledges to drain the swamp and impose Congressional term limits (5-point ethics-reform plan) -- Hillary would NEVER in a million years propose something like this
  • I don't care if the building is on fucking fire, with a tornado headed straight for it, and a mushroom cloud in the damn distance-- GET YOUR ASSES IN THERE AND VOTE!
  • ATTENTION UNDECIDED VOTERS: Last call for the Trump train! NO BRAKES!

Example of memes before and after the election:

During the election:

Aftermath of the election:

Much different from /r/hillaryclinton.

Conclusion

Note: Net change was used because in terms of actual values, /r/The_Donald had ~270,000 subscribers, while the other subreddits had less than 70,000.
Note: /r/the_meltdown was not included because its percent change was significantly larger than the other subreddits, and graphically made their changes barely noticeable.

Reddit's Political Affiliation

Not a clear-cut answer.

  • Huge community of people - over 150 million
  • Each subreddit attracts different users and ideologies
  • Traditionally, reddit agrees on common issues - appears left
  • However, recently some subreddits following alt-right
  • Donald Trump subreddit - incredibly popular/active
  • Donald Trump on reddit as a whole - much more controversial
  • Answer: Depends on subreddit; some parts moving right, most parts staying left

Hillary vs. Trump on Reddit

  • Trump clearly more popular by the numbers
  • Outsider appeal, hate for Clinton
  • Trump’s Q and A
  • Level of anonymity, limited lifespan and visibility of posts, comments
  • Meme potential and subreddit atmosphere
  • Group identity, unique culture, homophily, extremism

4chan

What is 4chan?

4chan is an "imageboard". This means that posts are started by posting pictures, and depending on how frequently people comment, it stays up. All users are anonymous.

How did 4chan start?

In 2003, 15-year old Christopher Poole started 4chan as an "imageboard website" to discuss Japanese anime and comics.

Originally, on Japanese topics were discussed on the platform, but things quickly spiraled out of controlled. Poole (or moot on 4chan) deleted boards that were becoming too racist in the beginning, but he then handed ownership of the site to Hiroyuki Nishimura, the owner of 4chan's Japanese counterpart: 2channel.

Since the beginning, 4chan has been responsible for many cultural phenomenon, including Rick Rolling, the Anonymous hacker organization, and lolcats.

The Election

When it became apparent that Donald Trump was going to win, 4chan's /pol/ board looked like this:

"MAGA MAGA MAGA MAGA"
Kek
Pepe
Racism

Chris Poole Reacts

"/pol/ was a mistake"

Why is 4chan like this?

Something Awful

"He first advertised the site on the forums of Something Awful, a place whose slogan is "the internet makes you stupid". This is actually really important to the history of 4chan. SA was and kind of still is the original bastion for sarcastic assholes on the internet. So the initial userbase is made up of caustic older nerds who have sort of a twisted sense of humor. They came for the anime, but they stayed because of 4chan's other unique feature: everyone posts anonymously by default." - source

Extreme - Extreme

Donald Trump and 4chan both already had extreme ideologies - it only made sense for them to mesh into one. In addition, the alt-right interference with propaganda like Pepe flooded the site with pro-Trump images and posts.

Anonymity/No Memory

"To a 4channer anonymity is sacred and unquestioned. Their position is that by removing names you remove ass-kissing and circle-jerking and are left with the value of your content alone. Nobody cares about who you are and there's value in having discussion this way. However this had a few unintended side effects." - source

Cult-like Gratification

"Anonymity means you can say whatever you want without consequence, so 4chan breeds aggressive, uncompromising behavior. Esstentially, people are much more forceful about their opinions, are more likely to call out others without provocation, and many use it as a platform to say things they'd never admit to believing in real life." - source

Articles on gratification on the internet here, here, and here.

Conclusion

Donald Trump is the clear candidate for 4chan. This is because of the extreme ideologies that surround the site, and the technical features such as lack of memory and anonymity.

References

Reddit

  • www.reddit.com/r/The_Donald/
  • www.reddit.com/r/hillaryclinton/
  • www.reddit.com/r/EnoughTrumpSpam/
  • www.reddit.com/r/the_meltdown/
  • http://www.emeraldinsight.com.proxy-um.researchport.umd.edu/doi/pdfplus/10.1108/LHTN-03-2015-0018

4chan

Cannot give a lot of links because of the lack of memory on 4chan. Many sources are in links. Those that are not are here:

  • https://np.reddit.com/r/explainlikeimfive/comments/2b547u/eli5what_is_4chan_and_why_is_it_being_banned_in/cj1xsen/
  • https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/4chan
  • https://www.quora.com/Why-is-4chans-pol-section-so-racist
  • https://mic.com/articles/155739/4chan-new-racist-code-google-skype-skittle-alt-right-trolls-harass-jews-muslims-blacks

Credits:

Created with images by DHuiz - "Trump Tower"

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