Reddit’s New Rules Call Out BuzzFeed For Mining Its Content

Giuseppe Macri Tech Editor
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“The front page of the Internet” announced new rules earlier this week asking viral websites like BuzzFeed to give due credit to the social platform when mining it for content.

Reddit’s new “pressiquette” (press etiquette — a reference to the “Reddiquette” guidelines users are expected to follow) asks that journalists seek out the Reddit user who originated content before including it in a story, and request permission to do so.

“If you see an interesting story or photo on Reddit, message the redditor who shared the piece to ask for their permission prior to using it in an article or list, ask how they would like it to be attributed, and provide them a deadline before you move on to another story,” the rules state.

“Please respect redditors who may wish to stay anonymous, or to not be featured in an article.”

The guidelines also ask reporters to ensure photos, gifs, videos and other content are original to the Reddit user before sourcing, and advises them to search the Internet at large to do so, as many users share content that doesn’t belong to them. The social platform suggests members of the media search image hosting websites like imgur, which hosts a bulk of Reddit images, to find the content’s owner.

Reddit’s new rules follow BuzzFeed’s announcement last week of a $50 million investment in the website by venture capital firm Andreessen Horowitz, which likened the growing Internet giant to revolutionary tech startups like Tesla Motors or Netflix.

The rules have sparked speculation as to how viral content aggregators like BuzzFeed could realistically follow the guidelines, which would likely put a significant drag on its fast-paced business model centered around media and listicles assembled from numerous pieces of content posted by individual redditors.

One of the new rules also highlighted a complaint Internet users and artists have with Reddit itself, which according to The Guardian “encouraged users to ‘link to the direct version of a media file when the page it was found on doesn’t add any value.'”

“That practice, known as ‘hotlinking,’ is a common complaint of artists whose work regularly appears on Reddit, since it can send thousands of users to their site without a single one seeing an image credit or advertisement,” The Guardian reports.

In response to questions from the newspaper, Reddit has since changed the rule to suggest hotlinking “if the page it was found on isn’t the creator’s and doesn’t add additional information or context.”

According to a Gawker report from Tuesday — the same day Reddit rolled out its new rules — BuzzFeed deleted more than 4,000 posts that were “sloppily sourced” according to CEO Jonah Peretti.

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