Reddit is shedding its anything goes attitude in favor of a new set of policies that returning CEO Steve Huffman said are necessary to stamp out the site’s “dark side”.
He also announced that Steve Huffman, who founded Reddit with his University of Virginia roommate, Alexis Ohanian, back in 2005, will return as the CEO of the company. But sexism and racism, among other things, would be tolerated as long as they are limited to discussions.
While the debate rages on about Ellen Pao, the future of Reddit does not look as bright as it once used to.
In a 2012 interview with Forbes, Ohanian was asked what the Founding Fathers would have thought of Reddit: “A bastion of free speech on the World Wide Web?” They don’t have clear boundaries, a problem that has plagued Reddit before and some say is the main reason it’s having issues with containing violent talk and bullying on the platform.
The internet Reddit’s executives have dreamed up is a freakish compromise.
“I think we have an intuitive sense of what this means (e.g. death threats, inciting rape)”, Huffman wrote, “but before we release an official update to our policy we will spell this out as precisely as possible”.
Huffman – whose Reddit handle is “spez” – said that he will be posting an AMA (Ask Me Anything) on Thursday at 1pm PST to present the company’s current thinking.
He wrote that Reddit is considering requiring that adult content be flagged as not safe for work (NSFW). That content will not appear in search results and will generate no revenue for Reddit. (At all this, the members of r/coontown rejoiced.). If it left the most frightful content up and it would continue to facilitate hatred while seeing bad press, spooked advertisers, and disgusted users flee the site.
Prior to Huffman’s AMA session, Pao suggested that Reddit is at war with its troll population in an op-ed for the Washington Post.
Prior to that, Pao was in the news earlier in the year when she sued her former employer, venture capital firm Kleiner Perkins Caufield and Byers for sexual discrimination and retaliation.
“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”, he wrote in an online post. “The trolls are winning”, Pao wrote. “They’re much more likely than their male counterparts to experience this extreme harassment”.
Balancing freedom of expression with protection of the the internet’s citizens, Pao said, is only getting harder. On top of this, Pao had five subreddits deleted because of questionable content and the moderators’ lack of addressing the harassment of individuals.
We’ve had the NSFW classification since almost the beginning, and it’s worked well to separate the pornography from the rest of Reddit.
In the past eight months, Pao has introduced policies that have proved unpopular with some Redditors, including the site’s first ever anti-harrassment policy and its closure in June of five subreddits that violated that policy.