Former Reddit CEO says Ellen Pao defended the community’s freedom of speech

Former Reddit CEO says Ellen Pao defended the community’s freedom of speech

There’s more drama at Reddit than at a Shahs of Sunset house party lately (don’t ask me how I know about that show).

After the company parted ways with interim CEO Ellen Pao, former CEO Yishan Wong has taken to the community’s forums to spill secrets about its inner workings and its failure to protect free speech.

After newly appointed CEO and co-founder Steve Huffman announced an upcoming Ask Me Anything session to discuss the site’s next content policy, Wong claimed that Pao was the last defender of the community’s freedom of speech.

Wong’s comments appeared shortly after Huffman stated on the site that neither he nor co-founder Alexis Ohanian created Reddit to be a bastion of free speech. Interestingly, a page detailing Reddit’s rules states in the first line that it is ‘a pretty open platform and free speech place’.

Additionally, Ohanian told Forbes in 2012 that he believed Reddit was a space for free speech.

Wong claimed that when he was CEO, Huffman told him in an email, “Back when I was running things, if there was anything racist, sexist, or homophobic I’d ban it right away.”

Wong also said that Reddit’s board had been pushing Pao to ban hateful subreddits for some time, and she held out because she knew it could get ugly with the community.

That implies that Pao was the one protecting Redditors’ freedom of speech all along — which is ironic, given that more than 213,000 people signed a petition to oust her from her position as CEO with the belief that under her leadership, “Reddit entered into a new age of censorship.”

Wong went on to defend Pao further:

Ellen isn’t some “evil, manipulative, out-of-touch incompetent she-devil” as was often depicted. She was approved by the board and recommended by me because when I left, she was the only technology executive anywhere who had the chops and experience to manage a startup of this size, AND who understood what reddit was all about.

Ellen was more or less inclined to continue upholding my free-speech policies. /r/fatpeoplehate[7] was banned for inciting off-site harassment, not discussing fat-shaming. What all the white-power racist-sexist neckbeards don’t understand is that with her at the head of the company, the company would be immune to accusations of promoting sexism and racism: she is literally Silicon Valley’s #1 Feminist Hero, so any “SJWs” would have a hard time attacking the company for intentionally creating a bastion (heh) of sexist/racist content. She probably would have tolerated your existence so long as you didn’t cause any problems – I know that her long-term strategies were to find ways to surface and publicize reddit’s good parts – allowing the bad parts to exist but keeping them out of the spotlight.

Wong believes that the new age of censorship is about to begin:

Well, now she’s gone (you did it reddit!), and /u/spez (Steve Huffman) has the moral authority as a co-founder to move ahead with the purge. We tried to let you govern yourselves and you failed, so now The Man is going to set some Rules. Admittedly, I can’t say I’m terribly upset.

It’ll likely take more than an AMA to fix Reddit’s myriad woes and mistakes. With alternatives cropping up in the wake of the company’s recent disastrous decisions, Huffman and Co. will have to move quickly to make things right.

Read next: Reddit CEO: ‘Neither Alexis nor I created reddit to be a bastion of free speech’
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