Steve Huffman's going to reveal Reddit's new content policy tomorrow, but one of his predecessors is promising that it'll be a "purge." Yishan Wong, who ran the site between 2012 - 2014 and has spoken in support of Ellen Pao, has decided to "declassify a lot of things," airing plenty of dirty laundry in the process. Wong points to discussions he had with Huffman during his tenure, saying that the co-founder was previously unconcerned with protecting free speech and was blasé about censoring racist, sexist and homophobic threads. He goes onto quote Huffman as saying that "I don't think there's a place for such things on Reddit," giving you a clue as to the tone of tomorrow's AMA.
"The free speech policy was something I formalized because it seemed like the wiser course at the time. It's worth stating that in that era, we were talking about whether it was ok for people to post creepy pictures of women taken legally in public. That's shitty, but it's a far cry from the extremes of hate that some parts of the site host today. It seemed that allowing creepers to post (anonymized) pictures of women taken in public, in a relatively small subreddit that never showed up on the front page, was a small price to pay for making it clear that we were a place welcoming of all opinions and discourse.
Having made that decision - much of reddit's current condition is on me. I didn't anticipate what (some) redditors would decide to do with freedom. reddit has become a lot bigger - yes, a lot better - AND a lot worse. I have to take responsibility."
Wong also takes the blame, personally, for the perilous state that the site currently finds itself in, saying that r/creepshots was a watershed moment for him. The executive said that he decided not to ban "creepy pictures of women" as it was a "relatively small subreddit that never showed up on the front page." He felt that giving it a free pass was "a small price to pay" for making it clear that we were a place welcoming of all opinions and discourse."
The other notable point in the essay is the belief that the deposed Ellen Pao was, contrary to public belief, advocated against wide-scale bans on the site. When Pao banned r/fatpeoplehate, it was because it incited "off-site harassment, not discussing fat-shaming." Wong adds that Pao "upholds free speech and tolerates the ugly side of humanity because it is so important" -- as well as the more cynical point that the former Interim CEO's gender and career provided a shield against criticism.
"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."
In closing, Wong issues a warning to the Reddit community that was successful in ousting Pao in the wake of the Victoria Taylor scandal. Just after saying that Huffman now "has the moral authority" to purge the "ugly side" of the site, he closes his piece by adding "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."