Yes, Reddit is safe to use, in the sense that it won’t somehow try to install a virus on your device or steal your personal information just from normal browsing. However, as is the case with most websites, safety is largely up to how you use it. In this article, we explore the safety nuances of Reddit and ways to protect your privacy when visiting the site.
Reddit is a massive news aggregation and discussion website. How massive? Well, in addition to being one of the biggest and most visited sites in the world, with over 50 million daily unique users globally, Reddit’s network comprises over 2.8 million communities (known colloquially as “subreddits”) with over 130,000 of those communities being highly active.
Reddit generally allows moderators to self-govern their communities, but there are sitewide rules outlined in the Reddit Content Policy that ultimately dictate what is acceptable. While Reddit has had its fair share of controversies, it has taken steps in recent years to stamp out hate speech and questionable content.
Which leaves us with the question…
Is Reddit safe to use?
To be fair, it’s a very broad question.
Generally like anything else in life, Reddit is safe to use if you use it safely—in the same way that it’s unsafe if you use it unsafely. You can also think of it as a tool. In most hands, a tool is used for its intended purpose. In other hands, a tool can become a weapon.
With that in mind, it’s worth noting that Reddit as a source for knowledge and resources is absolutely invaluable. You can, almost quite literally, upskill and learn about anything you want—provided that you can find the right community for it.
Apart from that, Reddit is also a great place for things like news, entertainment, fitness, fandoms, and shopping coupons. Whether it be mental health, technology, or finance, Reddit is also a great place to find communities for support. This is, of course, not saying that these communities should act as replacements for actually addressing complex issues, but they are a great starting point.
Conversely, Reddit has also hosted some highly questionable communities that have been banned over the years. While free speech is a fundamental component for a functioning democratic society, debating what this should and should not include is an extremely tricky and touchy subject.
Which brings us to…
Is Reddit safe for kids?
Reddit’s user agreement outlines that the platform can only be used by those who are 13 and above. That said, there are minimal age-verification processes in place, so if a young kid wanted to use the site, it wouldn’t be hard for them to do so.
As mentioned above, think of Reddit as a tool. You could say the same thing about YouTube, Facebook, Instagram, or Twitter. There are many platforms that host both kid-friendly content and adult-oriented material.
While Facebook Messenger, YouTube, and Spotify offer versions of their apps geared towards kids—Messenger Kids, YouTube Kids, and Spotify Kids respectively—Reddit has no such offering. This means that parents should absolutely take steps to protect their children online when using Reddit.
In addition to inappropriate content, parents should be vigilant about predators. As a platform for pseudonymous communication, you never really know who’s on the other end of a conversation. Pseudonymity is both a blessing and a curse in this regard. Pseudonymity, like anonymity, is the concept of wanting others to know what you’re doing, but not that you’re the person doing it. How this differs specifically is through the use of a pseudonym—in this case, a Reddit username—to provide some level of identification.
How to stay safe on Reddit
Here are a few tips to keep you and your kids safe while using Reddit.
How to keep yourself safe on Reddit
- Sign in with an email that you use just for Reddit.
- Create a username that does not contain clues to your identity.
- Create a strong password.
- Enable two-factor authentication.
- Disable the ability for your account to be indexed by Google, thereby keeping your posts hidden from search results.
- Avoid discussing anything that could identify you in real life. This includes:
- Your employment
- Where you live
- Personal details such as your date of birth
- Things you own
- Be wary about the links you click, as malicious actors can use URL shorteners to direct you to dangerous sites, leave you vulnerable to phishing attacks, put cookies on your computer, and gather personal information about you.
How to keep your kids safe on Reddit
- First and foremost, talk to your child about being vigilant online. Specifically focus on not discussing or giving out personally identifiable information to strangers.
- Set up your child’s account using a dedicated email address that only you can access. That way, you can control how the Reddit account is used and not risk your child, or any third-party for that matter, altering any account settings.
- Choose a username that doesn’t divulge information about your child’s identity.
- Make sure to create a strong password.
- Enable two-factor authentication to secure the account.
- While Reddit doesn’t have dedicated parental controls or settings, you can still provide basic protection by heading over to User Settings and locking down features like: profile visibility on and off site, limiting who can follow the account, content posting visibility, personalized content and ads, and adult content.
- Teach them to block anyone that is harassing them.
Read more: Signs that your child is being cyberbullied
Increase your privacy even more: Use a VPN!
Is Reddit safe for privacy?
- Account information
- Submitted content
- User actions
- User purchases
Reddit automatically collects the following information:
- Log and usage data
- Data from cookies
- Location information
Information collected from other sources:
- Linked services
- Reddit embeds
Information collected by third parties:
- Embedded content
- Programmatic ads
- Audience measurement
If you use Reddit Ads, the following information is collected from advertisers and potential advertisers:
- Customer service and troubleshooting logs, and useability research information
According to Reddit, any information collected is used to enhance user experience. This can include improving site services and user protection, communicating site changes and promotions, analyzing trends, monitoring ad effectiveness, and personalizing service content. Reddit can also monitor specific instances of any third-party services linked to your Reddit account—for example, if you use a social account for single sign-on.
Additionally, user information can be used to comply with law enforcement requests or in an emergency if a situation is deemed serious enough in order to prevent serious bodily harm.
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