Former Reddit CEO Ellen Pao Rips Current Reddit CEO Steve Huffman

The latter penned a letter to employees in response to ongoing protests in the US

Huffman stressed support of voting reform - Credit by stockcam/iStock
Headshot of David Cohen

A letter to Reddit employees from current CEO Steve Huffman drew the ire of former CEO Ellen Pao.

Huffman shared his letter to all Reddit employees in response to the nationwide racial unrest and demonstrations spurred by the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis May 25 following the use of excessive force by the police during an arrest.

He wrote, in part, “We work for this platform because we care deeply about community and belonging. But community and belonging are not possible without safety from violence, and now is the time to stand in solidarity with the Black members of our communities (locally, at Reddit, on Reddit and beyond). As Snoos, we do not tolerate hate, racism and violence, and while we have work to do to fight these on our platform, our values are clear.”

The Snoo is the Reddit mascot.

Pao, who resigned as Reddit’s CEO in July 2015 following controversy over the removal of five subreddits for harassment, blasted Huffman’s letter in a tweet.

She wrote, “I am obligated to call you out: You should have shut down the_donald instead of amplifying it and its hate, racism and violence. So much of what is happening now lies at your feet. You don’t get to say BLM (#BlackLivesMatter) when Reddit nurtures and monetizes white supremacy and hate all day long.”


Pao was referring to subreddit the_donald, which was placed behind a quarantine screen last July for “significant issues with reporting and addressing violations of Reddit’s rules against violence and other aspects of the content policy.”

In addition to the quarantine screen, further measures were put in place to keep posts from the_donald from interfering with other areas on the site.

Reddit declined to comment.

Reddit was one of the first social platforms to take action against the alt-right movement in February 2017 and against QAnon in September 2018.

Its policies were overhauled in 2018 to further ban several potential hate-oriented subreddits.

Huffman went on to say that in the short term, Reddit is exploring options including on-site activations, shifting marketing resources and hosting Ask Me Anything sessions to help guide conversations on its platform.

Longer-term, he stressed support of voting reform and said there was more that Reddit can do on this topic in the context of Covid-19 and potential threats to the integrity of the upcoming presidential election in the U.S.

Huffman concluded, “I am heartened to see so many of our Snoos looking for ways to stand up, both outside of work and with your fellow Snoos (whether making donations to national and local orgs fighting racism and police violence or asking how to be better allies to coworkers of color and more). The people and culture team and I spoke earlier with people leaders to start what will be ongoing conversations at Reddit around allyship and how we as a company show up, speak out and take action. We will share more at this Thursday’s all-hands (if not before) on how we are going to do so.”


david.cohen@adweek.com David Cohen is editor of Adweek's Social Pro Daily.
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