The Reddit War

On April 14, Reddit user nadiahamilton logged onto the Syrian Civil War subreddit to submit the following post:

4:02 am syrian time, damascus, I’m hearing some seriously loud and strong blasts. Is it happening already?”

A bit later, she added an update: “EDIT: somoene in barzeh just confirmed they’re attacking that area.”

The responses by the rest of the community varied wildly. User syrus5 added soberly that his family had also been awoken by the sounds of airstrikes. NewHendrix wondered whether the OP (original poster) and their family had survived the attack unscathed. Upholding the subreddit’s mission statement of “critical and substantive on-topic discussion,” DONUTof_noFLAVOR compiled a quick collection of press releases and livestreams of the raid. As the rest of the world soon learned, U.S. President Donald Trump’s administration had just ordered retaliatory strikes in response to a recent chemical attack, targeting the Barzeh research center in regime-held Damascus. Other Redditors soon swarmed the thread to put in their two cents, mostly either denouncing American imperialism or calling for a diplomatic solution. As was typical for the community, it was easy to discern Syrian users from the rest: While Europeans and Americans were caught in the heat of the moment, those with deeper ties to the region postponed political judgments to discuss the facts.

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