Reddit has surpassed Facebook, becoming the third most popular website in the United States, according to alexa.com, the official website of Alexa Internet, a California-based subsidiary of Amazon focused on providing commercial web traffic data and analytics.
Behind Google and YouTube, Reddit is now the third most popular website in America and the sixth most popular website in the world. Data published on alexa.com shows 58 percent of Reddit visitors are from the United States, 7.6 percent are from the United Kingdom, 6 percent from Canada, 3.1 percent from Australia, and 2.1 percent are Japanese.
The average user spends little more than 15 minutes on the website, per day.
One of Reddit’s co-founders shared his story with Inc.. Alexis Ohanian built what’s often referred to as “the front page of the internet” back in 2005. A social news aggregation and discussion website, Reddit was built in only three weeks. Initially, the website was just links and text submitted by users, with “interesting” and “not interesting” buttons underneath submissions.
Between November 2005 and January 2006, Reddit merged with a company called Infogami, owned by coder and activist Aaron Swartz. Swartz, as Wired reported, was arrested and charged with violating federal laws in 2011. Wired and Reddit are owned by the same company, Condé Nast Publications.
In January 2007, Swartz was fired.
Swartz’s story had a tragic epilogue. The young man took his own life at the age of 26. A documentary, The Internet’s Own Boy: The Story of Aaron Swartz, was made about the programming prodigy. It remains highly rated on imdb.com.
Reddit’s story, however, had only just begun. Following Swartz’s firing and subsequent suicide, the website grew in popularity, quite substantially. New features, like Reddit gold – Reddit’s premium membership program which allows users to block ads, switch between different themes, create a custom avatar, participate in exclusive communities – accelerated the growth.
Along with the growth, came a number of controversies, some of which were widely reported on. In 2013, for example, following the Boston Marathon bombings, as Newshub reported, Reddit users wrongly identified a number of people as suspects, after piecing together “clues” found in pictures and videos of the bombing.
In August 2014, over 200 private images of a number of celebrities stolen during a hack of Apple’s iCloud were uploaded to Reddit. A community dedicated to the images surfaced on the website, receiving 250 million views, according to The Independent.
A year later, after a woman named Ellen Pao had become the new CEO of Reddit, the website shut down five communities citing issues related to harassment. This, according to Forbes, prompted thousands of Reddit users to migrate to other, similar platforms.
Pao’s successor and current Reddit CEO, Steve Huffman, was involved in a few controversies as well. At a 2016 conference, according to the Next Web, Huffman proclaimed that Reddit knows its users’ “dark secrets,” unlike Facebook which only knows what its users are “willing to share publicly.”
In November 2016, as the Business Insider noted, Huffman admitted to editing and modifying user comments and changing insulting comments made toward him, making it appear as if the insults were directed at the moderators of a Donald Trump Reddit community.
These controversies did not stunt the website’s growth. Reddit made a number of announcements this year, and they seem to have only accelerated the website’s growth. After surpassing Facebook, Reddit is currently the third most popular website in the United States, trailing giants Google and YouTube.