Last night, Reddit co-founder Alexis Ohanian went on Jimmy Kimmel’s show to talk about how good the internet is. It’s about connecting people! And giving them a voice! And gathering on forums of upskirt photos with names like r/fatpeoplehate! The PR blitz comes on the heels of Reddit raising another $200 million in funding; it’s now valued at $1.8 billion. The internet has been very good to Alexis Ohanian.
But anyway, last night he was on Kimmel to gloss over all of that and talk about Reddit being really nice and funny. He talked about a cute post of a dog that looks like famed character actor William H. Macy. It was posted by gryff42, who Ohanian said, “might have a really important day job; he might be a college student; he might be a head of state — you don’t know.”
At this point, Kimmel proceeded to pull up the rest of gryff42’s Reddit comment history for his national audience of millions, conflating gryff42’s comments with the sometimes-NSFW subject matter. As he described on Reddit’s “Today I Fucked Up” forum this morning, “I hardly ever post filthy stuff but I commented on a NSFW TIFU a few days ago and I think Jimmy thought it was my submission at the short glance he took.”
“There’s some filthy stuff on here,” Kimmel said, scrolling through this random guy’s comment history.
This is hardly the first time Reddit activity has inadvertently made the national news cycle. When Ken Bone (remember him?) participated in an AMA shortly before the 2016 election, his unfortunate past comments were broadcast to a wider audience. He quickly apologized.
Gryff42 doesn’t really have to worry about a backlash. Still, it just goes to show that Reddit’s ability to elevate anyone’s words to a national audience can have unintended consequences. Ohanian has not commented on the thread as of this afternoon.