Popular social media outlet Reddit has had no shortage of problems with its CEOs. Last year, former CEO of Reddit Ellen Pao stepped down after a great deal of controversy that caused a petition calling for her removal to reach over 200,000 signatures, as well as a popular hashtag on Twitter "#RedditRevolt." Much of this occurred after Ellen Pao's social justice centered actions, and shady past caused many Reddit users to rebel out of feeling mistreated by the site's administrators.
Once Pao was out, however, co-founder Steve Huffman replaced her as Reddit's CEO.
But now Huffman himself has confessed to mistreating Reddit users, specifically those who support Donald Trump. According to Business Insider, Huffman was caught altering posts by Trump supporters in the subreddit known as r/the_donald, after the deletion of a subreddit revolving around a conspiracy theory.
The story begins earlier this week, when The New York Times published a report on Comet Ping Pong, a Washington DC pizza place that a false news item on social media had pegged as the center of a child-abuse ring run by Hillary Clinton and her campaign head John Podesta, despite a lack of any evidence.
Following that report, Reddit took steps to shut down the "r/Pizzagate" subreddit community, which had the stated goal of proving the existence of a conspiracy centering on Comet Ping Pong. "We don’t want witchhunts on our site," says the warning that replaced the Pizzagate page on Reddit.
After the elimination of the subreddit, many of the users who frequent r/the_donald became upset, and consistently left messages that read "f**k u/spez," which by using Huffman's username caused notifications to consistently pop up in his notification. These notifications were often accompanied by other accusations.
Come Wednesday afternoon, Reddit users found that many of their messages to Huffman had been edited so that the messages read the names of r/the_donald moderators instead of Huffman's. When users began to blame Reddit's administration for this, Huffman answered by confessing that it was indeed him that did it in a post.
Yep. I messed with the “f**k u/spez ” comments, replacing "spez" with r/the_donald mods for about an hour. It’s been a long week here trying to unwind the r/pizzagate stuff. As much as we try to maintain a good relationship with you all, it does get old getting called a pedophile constantly. As the CEO, I shouldn’t play such games, and it’s all fixed now. Our community team is pretty pissed at me, so I most assuredly won’t do this again.
Now, redditors are accusing the CEO of doing exactly as Pao did before him, and censoring parts of Reddit the administration does not agree with. Also just like before, some redditors are calling for Huffman's resignation.
"Obviously, after the events of yesterday there have been loud calls for /u/spez to resign. If this gets big enough, that's likely to happen, after all, that's the corporate playbook," writes reddit user Aurondarklord in the popular GamerGate subreddit r/KotakuInAction, which also had its fair share of problems with the site. "If the plebs are rioting, give them a head on a pike to appease them and promise everything will be different under the new regime, while changing nothing. That's how reddit did it with Ellen Pao, after all."
"The ONLY way that reddit can regain our trust is to abolish this feature, and to create a means by which users can see for ourselves that it was abolished, that any similar features that breach community trust are exposed and abolished, and that we can check at any time to make sure they've stayed that way," he continued.
Whether this grows into another "Reddit Revolt" as it did with Pao remains to be seen, but unlike deleting entire subreddits, this may be seen as a much larger problem, as it is Reddit's administration actively altering users posts. This would be the equivalent of Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey editing tweets.