The GameStop saga: Reddit communities and the emerging conflict between new and old media
Keywords:Reddit, Gamestop, Online Community
This paper focuses on the (continuing) GameStop (GME) saga, where users of the subreddit Wallstreetbets (and later r/GME) subreddit challenged the flow of financial information from legacy media outlets in understanding financial manipulations and possibilities involved in the GME stock price. An extraordinary surge in value was attributed to activity on Wallstreetbets subreddit where users had been touting the stock for almost a year. While initially portrayed by traditional media as an almost humorous attempt to strike back at Wall Street, legacy reporting soon turned negative. Financial outlet news and information used top down, expert driven communication strategies to claim the surge was ephemeral and the product of crowd sourcing manipulation techniques. They soon stopped reporting altogether. The subreddit communities evolved, using bottom-up communication strategies to challenge “old” media narratives while using open source analysis and platform functionalities to maintain and expand an organized information and support system that functioned outside of traditional media boundaries. Different approaches to gatekeeping (expert driven vs. moderator/user driven) and analysis and dissemination (legacy/historically valid vs. open source) led to very different, often time conflicting, development of information, perspectives and calls to action. These differences, and the way they are treated in the larger society highlight how the Internet has reanimated the Lippman-Dewey debate over information and decision making from the early part of the twentieth century. While Lippman might claim Reddit sites are an illusion, Dewey might recognize possibilities for different type(s) of distributed activities crucial to a vibrant participatory democracy.
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