Reddit, which calls itself “The Front Page of the Internet,” is more influential in shaping Internet culture than its comparatively small reach would lead you to believe. Content featured on Reddit frequently “goes viral,” spreading to other websites, including Facebook.
[…] Because social networks like Facebook are all about who you know, they tend to be obsessed with authenticated identities.
[…] Reddit, by contrast, doesn’t care who you are or who you know offline. Reddit names are unconnected to real-world identities and it’s commonplace for users to create “throwaway” accounts to reveal sensitive information. In this sense, Reddit is more like the pre-social media Internet, when a New Yorker cartoonist could reasonably joke “On the Internet, no one knows you’re a dog.”
Identity isn’t the only way Reddit has learned from early Internet culture. While Facebook is organized around your friends, replicating your offline social network, Reddit is organized around topics. This is a model that parallels Usenet, the Internet’s ur-social network, a set of distributed message boards that served as a foundational influence on many builders of the contemporary commercial.
[…] Because Reddit connects strangers, it has certain advantages over Facebook, which connects friends. Ideas may spread more widely from Reddit than from Facebook despite a smaller pool of users. An idea shared between Facebook friends may peter out quickly as social networks reach saturation: an idea spread through friends who went to the same college may lose momentum when all alumni have heard about it. Reddit users are connected to many different communities, and an idea spread on Reddit’s front page may go on to spread in thousands of different groups of friends on Facebook. This power to disseminate ideas to many different social subnets may explain why Reddit memes often go viral and why Reddit has emerged as a key node in online activism.