Former Reddit CEO Ellen Pao wrote in an op-ed for the ‘Washington Post’ that free speech has given way to letting users silence others with hateful speech. The trolls are winning Reddit:
This isn’t an easy problem to solve. To understand the challenges facing today’s Internet content platforms, layer onto that original balancing act a desire to grow audience and generate revenue. A large portion of the Internet audience enjoys edgy content and the behavior of the more extreme users; it wants to see the bad with the good, so it becomes harder to get rid of the ugly. But to attract more mainstream audiences and bring in the big-budget advertisers, you must hide or remove the ugly.
She’s right. People love the good of the Internet and can withstand the bad — it’s the ugly everyone fears. Reddit, a place where users sanctify free speech, has many layers of ugly to it. But in order to grow, it needs to learn how to remove or manage those parts before they hurt even more people.
Don’t be surprised if Pao’s points are mirrored exactly by new CEO Steve Huffman today, when the company discusses its new content policy.