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Reddit, fresh off a $10 billion valuation, plans a strong international push, CEO says

Reddit will use its new funding to further its international presence and explore more content types, co-founder and CEO Steve Huffman told CNBC on Friday. 

"First order of business is make Reddit awesome. Make Reddit faster, more relevant, help it work for more people," Huffman said about the company's plans on "TechCheck." "And then we look to the future, so internationalization is a big effort of ours. Video will be another big effort of ours, so just same strategy. Just keep moving ahead."

Reddit announced on Thursday it will raise up to $700 million in a Series F fundraising round led by Fidelity Management, giving it a valuation of over $10 billion, more than triple what it was worth in February 2019.The company said it had already raised $410 million from Fidelity in its second funding round since the start of the year when small-time traders gathered on its platform in their battle against Wall Street institutions.

In February, shortly after the Reddit-fueled GameStop saga, the social media site completed a capital raise that doubled its valuation to $6 billion. Reddit also reached $100 million in advertising revenue for the first time in the second quarter of 2021, which is a 192% increase compared with the same period last year.

Reddit, founded in 2005, had 52 million daily active users and 100,000 subreddit communities as of January, according to Reuters. The site's infamous WallStreetBets forum now has more than 10.7 million participants.

"If we go back in the past, 15 years ago Reddit was just links, and then we added text and images and third-party video and our own video," Huffman said. "Every time we add a new content type, our users are creative in new ways and usually in ways that we can't predict. ... We're looking forward here to another big evolution of Reddit. I think there's a version of Reddit that's even better watched than it is read. Of course, text isn't going anywhere either."

Reddit still falls short of other major social media sites in its growth. Its latest valuation appears small next to Twitter's $51.7 billion valuation and 206 million monetizable daily active users, as of the second quarter, and Facebook's $1 trillion dollar valuation, as of Friday's market close, and 1.9 billion daily active users in June. Both of those tech giants have been around for roughly as long as Reddit has. 

Reddit's unique ability to host users who pioneer a new content type, like the meme, or drive up the popularity of certain kinds of content is what makes the company stand out, Huffman said.

"I think that's what makes Reddit really interesting is that our users do things that we or nobody else would ever actually predict, and I think that's the fun of it," he said.

Alexis Ohanian, Reddit's co-founder and former executive chair, similarly told CNBC earlier on Friday the company's online community is one of its greatest strengths. "I think every business is really now taking notice to the power of actually having an incentivized and motivated audience that isn't just sort of being used or mined for their information but actually contributing to something much bigger than themselves," he said.

Ohanian, who is now a venture capitalist, said Reddit can be a part of technology's role in building trust with communities to combat misinformation.

"Traditional institutions have both lost a lot of confidence in the eyes of people, as well as just sort of gotten outmatched when it comes to sort of quantity and even sometimes quality of content," Ohanian said on "Squawk Box."

The site's meme stock trading activity has previously led to conflicts with the Wall Street establishment and even pushed the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission to more closely monitor the volatility of some stocks' trading prices. 

Huffman said that Reddit has had conversations with the SEC and that the company has long monitored manipulation tactics, whether it's in the form of "users, a clever marketing team or something bigger and more nefarious." He said that people who try to manipulate Reddit "tend to stand out" against the site's regular user community.

"Our responsibility at Reddit is for our users to be able to create community, to find belonging, to come together around their interests and passions," Huffman said. "Whether that's stock trading and Wall Street Bets or more longer-term trading and ... investing, you know, both are celebrated and both are welcomed at Reddit."

— Reuters contributed to this story. 

Sours: https://www.cnbc.com/2021/08/13/reddit-fresh-off-a-10-billion-valuation-plans-a-strong-international-push-ceo-says-.html

The Originals: 10 Unpopular Opinions, According To Reddit

The Originals has been a total roller coaster and is one of the few spin-offs which was widely deemed more watchable than the original show, The Vampire Diaries. Naturally, the show found a very passionate and opinionated fandom just like any successful vampire drama does, and most of them took to Reddit to voice their thoughts.

RELATED: The Originals: Why The Main Characters Are Hard For Fans To Love

Not many fans agree with the ending of The Originals since they believe the Mikaelson brothers, especially Klaus, didn't need a redemption arc at all and they also disapprove of their deaths, among many other unpopular opinions.

10 Season 5 Is The Worst, Not Season 4

The Originals fandom has often deemed Seasons 4 and 1 to be the worst seasons but Redditors largely believe it was Season 5 because it had simply too much going on. While intricate, overlapping subplots and 'side quests' are the go-to formulas for most vampire dramas, fans on Reddit feel that Season 5 was really ill-designed, which is especially tragic considering it was the last.

There are simply too many unanswered questions, like what happens with Antoinette and Roman? Is Kol the only immortal Mikaelson left if Rebekah takes the cure to be human with Marcel? Why is Marcel so weak? Why are there so many repetitive storylines?

9 The Originals And The Vampire Diaries Are ‘Twitter Shows’

It has to be said out loud because Redditors have already echoed this sentiment, that both The Originals and TVD come across as lame as binge-watching content. If one was to browse through all the episodes in an orderly fashion, they’d find the same plot devices used, again and again, the same fights, the same punchlines, and some formulaic story arcs.

RELATED: The Vampire Diaries: 10 Things About Werewolves That Still Don't Make Sense

Some Redditors have proclaimed both the shows as ‘Twitter shows’ because it’s fun when you’re watching it with millions of people over the world and everyone’s tweeting about what made them mad. But as standalone shows, they lack repeat value.

8 The Originals Needed Some Small Town Intrigue

The Originals chose to break away from the tried-and-tested vampy, small-town shenanigans which have been a hit on television and chose to set the show in New Orleans. Sure, the place has a lot of historical contexts and a deep relationship with witchcraft which helped the storyline.

But the reason why every vampire drama, be it shows like True Blood or Buffy, or even the Twilight series, work so well is that the element of a small, sleepy town helps fine-tune the elements of creepiness. There are also many things one can get away with and there are lesser distractions, so Redditors feel that much like TVD, The Originals needed that small-town connection. 

7 Season 3 Klaus Was The Worst Dressed

Though moody separates and suave hunting jackets pretty much sum up Klaus’ whole sartorial vibe, in Season 3 of The Originals the costume department did take some liberties with his hair and wardrobe. It was probably because they wanted Klaus to dress more mature since he was a dad now, but they didn’t want him to go towards Elijah’s impeccable suit-and-tie territory.

RELATED: Every Vampire Diaries Character Who Died In The Originals

They tried a few things to see what works for the bad-boy-turned-vampire-dad look and tried some awkward styling, button-down jackets that looked too formal and his hair too was doing its own thing. And Redditors have labeled Season 3 Klaus as the sloppiest dresser.

6 Elijah Belonged With Katherine

This may come across as a bit too controversial but many fans on Reddit believed that in his heart, Elijah never stopped wanting Katherine Pierce from The Vampire Diaries, much like the Salvatore Brothers.

The two obviously had a lot of sexual tension and a long history together, and Elijah was at one point totally in love with her. Redditors mainly believe that Elijah’s relationship with Haley was somewhat circumstantial, he was obviously very drawn to her, but this is not the kind of love that stays on through centuries.

5 Kol Needed A More Self-Loving Personal Arc

The youngest Mikaelson brother is obviously a huge favorite on Reddit and many fans believe that Kol needed a different sort of storyline, one that wasn’t so enormously anchored to his love for Devina which made it look like a Disney romance.

Some fans have commented that Davina’s death should have been permanent and Kol, who was an immortal should have been able to find himself as a character and should have had a more urgent purpose on the show. Some Redditors also believe that he would have been much more interesting if he liked being a vampire.

4 Hayley Was Flaky

Hayley’s character had immense potential because, unlike most vampire or werewolf heroines, she was powerful and resourceful enough to make her own decisions, and had some very good allies. However, Redditors have commented on how they found her somewhat indecisive, flaky, and lacking in integrity, especially when it came to her personal life.

RELATED: 10 Shows To Watch If You Love The Originals

Her relationship with Jackson was a pretty big hint; it’s true that she had to marry Jackson and the decision wasn’t hers but she did have plenty of chances to make things easier for him, in a broader sense, even if she wasn’t attracted to him in any way.

3 Klaus And Cami Make More Sense Than Klaus And Caroline

Fans on Reddit and beyond it have often talked about how inorganic the attraction between Klaus and Caroline felt; they are clearly intrigued by each other but there was no real build-up, tension, or even a foundation that could explain their dynamic.

However, Cami and Klaus’ ‘relationship’ was much more realistic and grounded and fraught with earthy tension. It becomes obvious that Cami is attracted to him, even though she despises him and who he is and there was a lot of tragic movement in how she discovered that Klaus needed her because he had no friends or allies in Season 1.

2 The Show Should Have Ended With Season 4

Not all fans loved the fact that the major Mikaelsons were killed off at the end of the show; though they were shown to be at peace with their ending, and Hope was left with continuing the legacy of the family, fans on Reddit believed that the show should have concluded its run with Season 4 because it had a perfect ending and gave all the characters a clean break.

Rebekah is in New York City with Marcel, who wants to start a life with her; Kol is in San Francisco getting a large engagement ring for Davina, Hayley is with Hope in Mystic Falls as she gets enrolled at the Salvatore School. Alaric meets them and tells them that Hope would dowel there. In Manosque, France, Elijah seems to be living a secret life and comes across Klaus who acknowledges him and walks away.

1 Elijah Is The Scariest Original

This may sound totally untrue considering how Elijah has always been portrayed as the epitome of sagacity, but Elijah is definitely the more intimidating one, vis-a-vis his approach to violence. Klaus is fuelled by emotions and rage and he gives himself away easily, one could guess very easily when he’s about to kill or hurt someone.

But Elijah can rip someone’s arm off without a warning. Since he’s the more composed one, Redditors have often argued about how he’s scarier because he attacks in stealth and it’s impossible to know when he’ll go into attack mode.

NEXT: The Vampire Diaries: 10 Characters Who Just Didn't Look Right In The Show

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Reddit channel posts stories of anti-vaxxers dying of Covid, scaring fence-sitters into getting the shot

Sarah Ostrowski was convinced to finally get vaccinated after reading numerous stories on Reddit's r/HermanCainAward of unvaccinated people dying from Covid-19.
Courtesy of Sarah Ostrowski

For most of the pandemic, Sarah Ostrowski went to her full-time gas station job in Indiana, accepting the risk of being unvaccinated. Many times a day she interacted with customers and even cleaned up the public bathroom with no protection beyond her mask.

Ostrowski doesn't believe Covid-19 is a hoax. She takes it seriously. But she had reasons for not getting the shot.

She was concerned about the Johnson & Johnson vaccine causing blood clots, as had been reported in a few recipients. She was hesitant about the mRNA technology used to develop the Moderna and Pfizer vaccines. She also worried about potential side effects forcing her to take time off work.

And then there were her parents, who were constantly spouting anti-vaccine rhetoric, warning her that she would die if she got the shot.

"You care about what your parents think of you and whether or not they think that you're making a good decision or the right decision," Ostrowski said. "It's almost like a groupthink kind of thing. Even though you know the answer is wrong you're still going to say it just to fit in or conform."

That all changed last month. Ostrowski, who regularly scrolls through her feed on social media site Reddit, stumbled upon the forum r/HermanCainAward. It's a grim section of the app dedicated to showing visitors the real-life consequences of being unvaccinated and catching the coronavirus.

Reddit users upload screenshots multiple times a day of people who previously posted anti-vaccine comments and content on Facebook only to end up getting sick with Covid-19 before dying. The name of the subreddit refers to former Republican presidential candidate Herman Cain, who died from Covid-19 in July 2020, after refusing to wear a mask and attending a Donald Trump re-election campaign event.

"Nominees have made public declaration of their anti-mask, anti-vax, or Covid-hoax views, followed by admission to hospital for Covid," the page description reads. "The Award is granted upon the nominee's release from their Earthly shackles."

Since the subreddit's creation in September 2020, it's expanded to more than 375,000 members, with the top posts garnering thousands of user interactions. The forum has been the 10th fastest-growing subreddit over the past 30 days, according to FrontPageMetrics.com, which tracks Reddit usage.

An entry this week included a screenshot of an Aug. 12 post from a man who put a meme out to his followers: "I heard the government is putting chips inside of people. I hope I get Doritos."

A friend of the man later wrote on his feed that he was asking for prayers because the man and his wife had both been hospitalized with Covid-19. The wife had to have an emergency C-section to deliver their baby over 10 weeks early.

A following post came from the man's wife: "The world lost an amazing daddy, husband, brother, son, and friend today. My heart is in a million pieces."

'I was done playing'

Ostrowki said she'd eventually seen enough. On Sept. 12, she got her first shot. 

"If dad thinks I'm an idiot because I fell for the government and I'm a sheep, so be it," Ostrowski said. "I clean a public restroom for Christ's sake. I deal with some really gross stuff. So no, I was done playing."

During the pandemic, social media sites turned into a haven for misinformation and conspiracy theories, whether related to masks, the vaccines or advice from public health experts. Facebook, in particular, has struggled to weed out false content, with users sharing misinformation even in the comments section of posts from authoritative sources, according to internal company documents reviewed last month by the Wall Street Journal.

With multiple vaccines having been available for months for anyone 12 or older, vaccine resistance has become the central challenge to ending Covid-19. President Joe Biden said as recently as last month, "This is a continuing pandemic of the unvaccinated."

Only 57% of the country has been vaccinated, based on data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and 22% of Americans self-identify as anti-vaxxers, according to an academic study published in May. Experts, including White House coronavirus advisor Dr. Anthony Fauci, have said the U.S. will need as much as 90% of the population to get vaccinated in order to reach herd immunity.

US President Joe Biden speaks to reporters on the South Lawn upon return to the White House in Washington, DC on October 5, 2021.
Mandel Ngan | AFP | Getty Images

Since hitting the U.S. in March 2020, over 722,000 American have died from Covid-19. Ostrowski said the harrowing stories of death among the unvaccinated have had a major impact on her.

"It really hits home when you literally see yourself in these people," she said. 

Reddit still has plenty of anti-vaccine content across its site, which reaches over 50 million daily active users. As it gears up to go public, Reddit recently took steps to remove several subreddits that were being used to share misinformation. But numerous subreddits are still surfacing such content with names like r/Conservative, r/Ivermectin and r/FauciForPrison.

A Reddit spokesperson said the company has policies in place to remove inaccurate posts on Covid-19 vaccines.  

"Our Content Policy prohibits many kinds of harmful content, including health-related disinformation and other forms of manipulated content," the Reddit spokesperson said in a statement. "We have experienced teams dedicated to detecting and actioning content that violates our policies. As a result of these teams' efforts, we remove 99% of violating content before a user sees it."

Family dynamics

Chana Joly visits r/HermanCainAward with regularity. She said she does it for her dad.

Despite losing her brother to Covid-19 in January, Joly's dad has refused to get vaccinated. She said he's been radicalized in the past few years by misinformation and anti-vaccine conspiracies.

"I think it's especially sad with my dad because he is an educated person," Joly said. "He's not unintelligent. He just believes people he shouldn't."

Joly scrolls through the Reddit forum to gather stories that she can send her dad. When he gets defensive and disputes the posts she shares, she tells him to prove her wrong.

"You find me these stories on social media," Joly said, describing what she tells her dad. "These people dying in their own words from the vaccine. Find me these stories and you show me as many of those as I'm showing you of these. Or even a tenth of them."

Reddit user Chana Joly visit r/HermanCainAward to gather stories of real anti-vaxx people who die from Covid-19 that she can send to her dad, who has yet to get vaccinated.

Reddit user Rockets9495 of Houston is a medical doctor who works in an emergency room. He uses r/HermanCainAward for anecdotes that he can share with nurses, technicians and patients who may be on the fence.

He agreed to speak with CNBC but didn't want to disclose his name publicly to maintain his privacy. He showed CNBC his hospital badge.

"Misinformation is so goddamn dangerous, especially after this last president," the doctor said. "This is not a game. This is not a joke. You don't live in a Tom Clancy novel. This is real."

He said that scientific evidence hasn't been effective for him in trying to convince people about the safety of the vaccines.

"But this seemingly weaker evidence — word of mouth, anecdotal 'All these people are dying' — seems to hit people way harder," the doctor said.  

A different kind of award

The subreddit also includes some stories with happy endings. Those posts get labeled IPAs, or Immunized to Prevent Awards, and are given to users who show pictures of their vaccine immunization cards on the channel as proof that they got their shots.

A Reddit user with the handle lovelylady227 achieved the label.

"This subreddit was what fully convinced me, after waffling back and forth," she wrote on Sept. 22, adding that she's "officially out of the running" for the award that gave the channel its name.

Her post got tagged with the IPA label and received more than 7,000 upvotes and 380 comments. She posted her immunization card on Reddit after getting her second dose.

Lovelylady227 is a woman named Hannah. She asked to have only her first name published because she hasn't told her anti-vaccine family members about her decision.

Hannah received her first dose of Moderna's vaccine in August, but became fearful of getting the second shot after hearing her parents and her sister, who works in health care, discuss their concerns about the vaccines. Her family members would show anti-vaccine content on their phones to one another, and they believe that people who are vaccinated are shedding the virus.

Hannah went to Reddit in search of information. She started at r/CovidVaccine. There she found numerous posts from people complaining about the side effects they'd experienced after getting their second shots. Some described trembling, and others said they'd suffered heart attacks. 

"It just really freaked me out," she said.

Hannah's continued browsing on Reddit eventually brought her to r/HermanCainAward. What she found struck a nerve.

She read stories that start with people mocking the vaccine and end with their spouse asking friends to contribute to a GoFundMe page because of the hospital bills or the funeral expenses.

"You don't really realize how bad it is to be in the hospital with Covid until you see these people who are somehow giving you a play-by-play," Hannah said. "When you get those first-hand experiences from a Facebook profile, and you see the people experiencing regret, it's just like, 'Oh man, I really need to take this seriously. I can't put it off anymore.'"

Hannah said she's hoping to wait until three months after her vaccine before casually bringing it up with her family. At that point, she can show them that no harm has been done.

"The fact that they won't have noticed anything different is one of my main hopes," she said.

In the meantime, she's grateful for the positive reaction she received on Reddit after posting her vaccination card. 

"I know you don't need other people to tell you you did the right thing, but it sure helps when there's a bunch of people saying, 'Hey, good job,'" she said. "Because it's not coming from my family, that's for sure."

Ostrowski, the gas station manager, also received an Immunized to Prevent Award for posting her vaccine card. 

"Late to the party but finally fully vaxxed," she wrote on Oct. 4. The post received more than 2,000 upvotes and more than 100 comments. 

She said she's hoping to encourage more people to acknowledge they were wrong and that they can still change directions.

"I finally came around and made the right decision," she said.

WATCH:Facebook whistleblower slams company in '60 minutes' interview

Sours: https://www.cnbc.com/2021/10/16/reddit-r/hermancainaward-posts-stories-of-anti-vaxxers-dying-of-covid.html
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