Many people who viewed the stolen photos of Kate Upton and Jennifer Lawrence last week did so on Reddit. Consequently, those photos sent a flood of traffic to the site, and in under a week, made it enough money to pay its substantial server costs for a month, according to investigations by Wired. That number comes out, according to estimates on Reddit, to more than $160,000, not including advertising revenue.
Personal photos of dozens of celebrities were stolen from their computers and posted onto the site 4chan, where they quickly garnered public attention. Lawyers for the affected women quickly began trying to remove the photos from the internet, and as a result the photos found a home on a subreddit titled r/TheFappening. The photos circulated there for days before site moderators shut the subreddit down.
Users on Reddit have the option to pay for Reddit "gold." It costs $3.99 per month, and is used to pay for server time on the site. Reddit users typically gift "gold" to one another. Based on estimates of how much of that "gold" was shared on The Fappening's subreddit, the founder, John Menese, told Wired that the forum made enough money to power Reddit for a month.
"If Reddit had wanted to, they could have banned us on Sunday when our traffic broke their servers," Menese told Wired. "Instead, they chose to milk a week of publicity and a month of server time in Reddit gold before they stepped in."
The self proclaimed "front page of the internet" might believe in barely constrained freedom of speech as much as it says it does, but if it doesn't, then it almost certainly believes in money.