Shame on the Reddit Community

A revelation from Reddit’s ex-CEO Yishan Wong today shook up what was already a complex, controversial revolt on the ‘front page of the internet’:

I’ve always remembered that email when I read the occasional posting here where people say “the founders of reddit intended this to be a place for free speech.” Human minds love originalism, e.g. “we’re in trouble, so surely if we go back to the original intentions, we can make things good again.” Sorry to tell you guys but NO, that wasn’t their intention at all ever. Sucks to be you, /r/coontown – I hope you enjoy voat!

It turns out Reddit was never designed as a place for free speech, as the community claims it was. It was always meant to be censored, and not at all a place for harassment, racism or trolling. It was meant to be fun, and silly.

When Reddit began (rightly) clamping down on sub-reddits encouraging harassment, users revolted, threatened and abused CEO Ellen Pao. Except…

…the most delicious part of this is that on at least two separate occasions, the board pressed /u/ekjp to outright ban ALL the hate subreddits in a sweeping purge. She resisted, knowing the community, claiming it would be a shitshow.

She was the one campaigning for free speech all along. Disillusioned, nasty users ripped her apart and forced her to resign for no reason.

And how about the firing of AMA organiser Victoria Taylor, which led to a blackout of the biggest pages on the site? Wong clarified this too:

Alexis [Ohanian] wasn’t some employee reporting to Pao, he was the Executive Chairman of the Board, i.e. Pao’s boss. He had different ideas for AMAs, he didn’t like Victoria’s role, and decided to fire her.

Who got the blame? Of course, Pao: The defender of free speech.

Ellen Pao was scapegoated for banning harassing sub-reddits when she defended them and was blamed for firing an employee her boss didn’t like. She may not have been right on any occasion, but the community was wrong. Despicable and disgusting and obnoxious. I’m ashamed to be part of them.