Social news site Reddit today announced the official launch of its video hosting feature, meaning users of certain pre-approved communities can now upload video directly to the site. The feature is already in place as part of a beta testing phase the company began conducting in late June with around 200 existing subreddits. Reddit says it’s now ready to expand the feature to other communities, and that those interested can work directly with site moderators and the company’s video team to enable the feature.
“We wanted to make sure we controlled the video experience, so we built this from the ground up with our in-house team,” says Emon Motamedi, Reddit’s product manager for video. “One of the big motivations of doing this was bringing more cohesion around the content and conversations.”
Motamedi points to how most videos on Reddit are just YouTube links, or videos chopped up into GIFs hosted by third-party tools like Gfycat. This is usually a cumbersome process, and it’s unfriendly to less media savvy internet users. A bigger problem is that it fractures discussion between where the content is hosted and where a user wants to discuss. Usually, Motamedi says, “you go to YouTube to watch the video and you come back to Reddit to comment.” That’s not ideal. “Because our platform has the best comments on the internet and because it’s such a big use case for our users, we wanted to build that in-house,” he adds.
Reddit’s video tool, which will work both through its mobile app and on desktop, will also have a built-in GIF creation tool. “This speaks to a Reddit philosophy of giving creators the tools to flourish and getting out of the way,” Motamedi says. “Say they record a longer cute video of their dog playing. [A user] can post that entire video to a subreddit, but also go back to the edit flow, create a gif, and post it to another subreddit.”
The goal, Motamedi adds, is to let users tailor videos and GIFs to specific Reddit communities instead of just putting content on a third-party site and linking it, or trying to reach a massive, anonymous audience on a platform like YouTube. “It’s a way to democratize the video creation process,” he says. “Right now, on other sites, a lot of videos are made with a goal of speaking to a large base of subscribers and helping build those subscribers.” With Reddit video, the company hopes it will be mostly original content with a specific theme or subject matter, be it a video game highlight or cute pet GIF. The limits in place at launch will be 15-minute videos with a 1GB file size, with GIFs no longer than one minute.
On the topic of moderation, Reddit says it’s taking all the lessons it has learned from introducing image hosting earlier this year, as well as adopting policies the team has found successful on other video hosting sites. To that end, Reddit says three different teams will work together to cut down on violations like posting copyrighted content and uploading video that violates its online safety guidelines. One is the community team that works with subreddit moderators to keep behavior within specific communities in line. The second is a trust and safety team that works exclusively to enforce Reddit’s site-wide rules.
The third team is what Alex Le, Reddit’s vice president of product, calls the “anti-evil” team. “They build tools software and models to predict abuse where it might happen and make sure we can be inoculated against future issues and be ahead of them when possible,” Le says. The most important factor here, however, will be which subreddits are granted the ability to host videos. “When it comes to the actual communities, we’ve been deliberate to roll it out to distinct communities,” Le says.
As for how that process will evolve in the future, when video becomes more commonplace on Reddit, Motamedia says the company is weighing its options. Reddit is considering an application process or some sort of systemized auto-enrolling approach that involves careful input from the trust and safety team. For now, the company has a list of subreddits its ready to bring into the video program on a rolling basis.