Reddit’s co-founder and new CEO Steve Huffman announced that he would take questions about the site’s offensive content policy during an Ask Me Anything discussion on Thursday. The site has been entangled in controversy lately as it has struggled to moderate its more objectionable content and as several prominent female employees have left the company.
“Neither Alexis [Ohanian] nor I created reddit to be a bastion of free speech, but rather as a place where open and honest discussion can happen: These are very complicated issues, and we are putting a lot of thought into it,” Huffman wrote in the announcement of his AMA. “It’s something we’ve been thinking about for quite some time. We haven’t had the tools to enforce policy, but now we’re building those tools and reevaluating our policy.”
Reddit’s new approach to offensive content debuted in June, when the site, often referred to as “the front page of the Internet,” removed five subreddits that hosted offensive content. In a post announcing the subreddit removal, reddit co-founder Alexis Ohanian and former CEO Ellen Pao said that the site was working to create a balance between promoting free expression and preventing harassment. “We will ban subreddits that allow their communities to use the subreddit as a platform to harass individuals when moderators don’t take action. We’re banning behavior, not ideas,” they wrote.
The ban prompted outrage among some Reddit users, who responded by calling for Pao to resign. Pao faced criticism again after the recent firing of a popular employee, Victoria Taylor, and stepped down from her position at the company.
However, it appears Reddit’s battle with its users over what they can and cannot post on the site will continue under its new CEO, who referred to Reddit’s more controversial content as the site’s “dark side.” Reddit’s users were quick to critique Huffman and Reddit co-founder Alexis Ohanian for the policy shift. Users pointed out that, although Huffman claimed Reddit is not a “bastion of free speech,” Ohanian had used that exact phrase to describe the company in an earlier interview with Forbes.
Yishan Wong, who resigned as Reddit CEO in 2014, recently told redditors that the site was about to be “purged.”
Huffman’s AMA is scheduled for tomorrow at 1 p.m.
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