Obama answers live questions on Reddit, crashes servers

The president of the United States spends about an hour talking to Internet strangers on the popular social site Reddit. The impromptu interview brings the site to its knees.

U.S. President Barack Obama responding to questions on Reddit.
U.S. President Barack Obama responding to questions on Reddit. The White House

U.S. President Barack Obama briefly took to Reddit today to do one of the popular social news site's AMA or "ask me anything" sessions.

The interview, which kicked off just after 1 p.m. Pacific and lasted roughly an hour, quickly brought the site to its knees.

Ahead of the overload, Reddit founder Alexis Ohanian confirmed that President Obama was legitimately participating in the event, adding that the questions were being answered from Charlottesville, Va., where Obama is currently campaigning for a second term.

The format allows any registered Reddit users to ask questions, and the interviewee can answer whatever they want in a threaded stream of comments. All told, Obama answered nine questions, and users left more than 13,600 comments.

Some of the top questions asked included queries about increasing the funds for the U.S. space program, copyright law, Internet freedom, voter suppression and even the recipe for the White House's own beer -- something Obama said would "be out soon." He also proposed amendment to overturn Citizens United, the Supreme Court decision prohibiting government from restricting corporate and union independent political spending. "Even if the amendment process falls short, it can shine a spotlight of the super-PAC phenomenon and help apply pressure for change," he said.

As for protecting Internet freedom, Obama told users that it was something he "cared passionately" about.

"We will fight hard to make sure that the Internet remains the open forum for everybody -- from those who are expressing an idea to those to want to start a business," Obama said. "And although there will be occasional disagreements on the details of various legislative proposals, I won't stray from that principle -- and it will be reflected in the (Democratic Party's) platform."

On the space program Obama said it boiled down to research:

Making sure we stay at the forefront of space exploration is a big priority for my administration. The passing of Neil Armstrong this week is a reminder of the inspiration and wonder that our space program has provided in the past; the curiosity probe on mars is a reminder of what remains to be discovered. The key is to make sure that we invest in cutting edge research that can take us to the next level - so even as we continue work with the international space station, we are focused on a potential mission to a asteroid as a prelude to a manned Mars flight.
Obama answering questions, right before the site tanked.
Obama answering questions, right before the site tanked. Screenshot by David Hamilton/CNET

Reddit has hosted numerous AMAs with celebrities, politicians, and otherwise noteworthy individuals over the past few years. The format has been successful for many, though has also drawn the ire of the increasingly large social community. That includes a brief appearance by celebrity Woody Harrelson back in February to promote his film "Rampart." Users became irate when Harrelson refused to answer questions , and chided users for not keeping their topics to the upcoming film.

Updated at 2:23 p.m. PT with some of Obama's answers and additional background.

 

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