Reddit CEO Ellen Pao Resigns, Takes Aim At “Troll Hivemind”

A few weeks on from the dismissal of a popular employee, facing pressure from the board of directors and an all-out revolt from many users, Reddit‘s interim CEO Ellen Pao has officially stepped down.
Pao has long been a polarising figure on Reddit, thanks in part to her strong stance against harassment and revenge porn, and her goal of turning the site into a more safe space for users who face bullying. 
In an interview with NPR earlier this year, when asked if offensive sub-Reddits could potentially be deleted, Pao said that “it’s not our site’s goal to be a completely free-speech platform.” 
Some users, angry at this remark and seeing it as a direct threat of censorship, accused the CEO of being a dictator, and took to calling her Glorious Chairman Pao
Anger against Pao ramped up further this month, after Communications Director Victoria Taylor was fired. Taylor was a popular figure on the site, who was instrumental in conducting “ask me anything” interviews with celebrities and public figures. 
Moderators across Reddit went on ‘strike’, changing some of the site’s most popular sub-sections, including /r/funny and /r/gaming to ‘private’, meaning they could not be viewed by most visitors. 
Following Taylor’s firing, Pao began to receive threats described by a Reddit board member as “sickening.” Pressure continued to build, to the point where, overnight, she announced her resignation from the site, via a post to /r/self
“In my eight months as reddit’s CEO, I’ve seen the good, the bad and the ugly on reddit,” she said. “The good has been off-the-wall inspiring, and the ugly made me doubt humanity.” 
“I just want to remind everyone that I am just another human; I have a family, and I have feelings. Everyone attacked on reddit is just another person like you and me.”
“When people make something up to attack me or someone else, it spreads, and we eventually will see it. And we will feel bad, not just about what was said. Also because it undercuts the authenticity of reddit and shakes our faith in humanity.”
She thanked those who had stood by her and offered support when the site “overheated with expressions of hate”, and also those who gave her “the benefit of the doubt” when the “troll hivemind” moved against her.
Ultimately, she said, she left for business reasons. “The board asked me to demonstrate higher user growth in the next six months than I believe I can deliver while maintaining reddit’s core principles,” she said.
Pao signed off by urging users to “remember the human.”
Reddit co-founder Steve Huffman will take over as CEO.
via Wired
Photo: Justin Sullivan via Getty Images