Reddit chief Ellen Pao resigns amid vitriol, protests

Ellen Pao
Pctured: Ellen Pao. Image: Christopher Michel (Flickr). Licensed under CC BY 2.0 via Wikimedia Commons

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13 July 2015 | 0

Ellen Pao is resigning as Reddit’s interim chief executive after a week of tumult on the online message board with many users calling for her ousting.

Pao is resigning under a mutual agreement with Reddit’s board, the company announced. She will be succeeded by Steve Huffman, Reddit’s co-founder and original chief executive, who will work alongside Reddit co-founder Alexis Ohanian.

Pao leaves the company after a storm of abuse from users after Reddit’s termination of Victoria Taylor, a key employee who helped facilitate Reddit’s popular Ask Me Anything sessions.

Late last week, some areas of Reddit, known as subreddits, were made inaccessible by moderators who were angry about Taylor’s firing. Pao subsequently apologised, acknowledging broader missteps and a lack of responsiveness to concerns from users.

But that didn’t stop a petition calling for Pao to be removed as chief executive from gathering more than 200,000 signatures.

Reddit claims to have more than 160 million users who visit its site monthly. Many of its tools and message boards are controlled by volunteer moderators.

Pao exits Reddit as the site faces existential questions over its future as a platform for free discussion on the Internet. While the site has traditionally been known for the freewheeling nature of users’ posts, in recent months the company has made moves to restrict certain types of speech, including harassment.

It made those moves to better balance free expression with privacy and safety, but some users have criticised the changes.

In March, Pao lost a sex discrimination lawsuit against venture capital firm Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers, in a case that shone a much-needed spotlight on discrimination and lack of diversity in the technology industry.

Pao will remain as an advisor to the Reddit board through the end of the year.

IDG News Service

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