Reddit Sees Traffic Surge During Coronavirus Outbreak

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In the past week, as the coronavirus pandemic has enveloped the globe—with governments shutting down nearly every facet of society to control the outbreak—Reddit says it has seen a “surge” in traffic.

While Reddit would not provide exact numbers, the company has seen a significant increase in direct traffic to the site—not including search engine or referral traffic—and the Reddit mobile applications on iOS and Android are “growing faster than all other platforms and at the fastest rate we have seen in a couple years,” a spokesperson for the company said Tuesday. They also noted a 20% year-to-date increase in Reddit’s chat platform.

According to Comscore, Reddit garnered 85.4 million uniques in February.

Reddit, which is divided into communities of interest called subreddits, said it saw traffic increases of 20-50% in subreddits related to business, finance, news, education, travel and sports over the past two weeks. While the company wouldn’t provide daily active user numbers for subreddits, the company continually touted its global traffic increase over the past week.

For example, r/investing and r/wallstreetbets each saw a ninefold increase in views, the latter seeing 11.7 million pageviews on March 12 as stocks plunged into a bear market.

As most sports leagues have canceled or suspended their seasons, Reddit traffic has responded in accord. On March 11, when the NBA season was suspended, r/nba saw 1.5 million pageviews and 13,000 comments. When Arsenal F.C. coach Mikel Arteta tested positive for COVID-19, r/soccer spiked with 488,000 views and 2,200 comments, Reddit confirmed. 

On Tuesday, r/coronavirus ranked second among the website’s top growing communities with 1.2 million members. Additionally, Reddit users created r/stayingathome on March 15 dedicated to learning new skills and managing work from home and life in self-isolation, and it is already among the top five fastest-growing subreddits.

With so many Americans working from home and, potentially, out of their supervisor’s line of vision, overall web traffic is likely up—many broadband providers are preparing their networks and expanding coverage in accordance with new guidelines from the FCC. Online infrastructure and security company Cloudfare told NPR Tuesday that internet use was up 40% in Seattle compared with January, and in South Korea, visits to news websites are up around 60% during the coronavirus outbreak. 

But so far, Reddit is one of the few websites that have willingly voiced a noticeable increase in traffic. Adweek reported Friday that internet porn giant Pornhub saw a nearly 6% uptick in traffic last Wednesday as many Americans started working from their homes. Adweek requested data from most social networking websites this week, and only Reddit disclosed what it has seen during the most recent stretch of the pandemic. 

As traffic increases on social platforms, so does the need to moderate content. Every major social platform has committed to spotlighting authoritative information while rooting out misinformation and disinformation from actors malicious or unaware. Monday night, a group of the largest firms in Silicon Valley—Facebook, Google, LinkedIn, Microsoft, Twitter, YouTube and, yes, Reddit—signed on to a joint statement in which they pledged to collaborate on “combating fraud and misinformation about the virus, elevating authoritative content on our platforms, and sharing critical updates in coordination with government healthcare agencies around the world.”

Reddit’s moderation is unique in that it relies upon community moderators, who adhere to sitewide policies and set their own—often more stringent—rules to combat misinformation and ensure the free flow of conversation in the community. For example, r/coronavirus rules prohibit “spreading misinformation,” “encouraging the use of non sourced or speculative opinion as fact,” “accusing (ethnic and/or racial) groups in a generalizing way” and bans users giving out medical advice from the subreddit. 

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