Skip to main content

Reddit's secrets are being leaked by the company's former CEO

Reddit's secrets are being leaked by the company's former CEO


[drama intensifies]

Share this story

Former Reddit CEO Yishan Wong is feeling salty about his former employer, and he's letting the world know it. In the wake of Ellen Pao's resignation last Friday, Wong accused co-founder Alexis Ohanian of planning controversial changes to the site and then throwing Pao under the bus when Reddit took heat for them. And now Wong is airing more of the company's secrets — including the assertion that Pao was, astoundingly, the last line of defense for the vicious trolls who wanted to get her fired.

On Tuesday, new Reddit CEO Steve Huffman — Ohanian's other half — announced that the company would reveal possible changes to how it deals with some of the site's nastiest communities. In the announcement, Huffman claimed that "neither Alexis nor I created Reddit to be a bastion of free speech," setting Reddit's censorship-averse zealots off in a renewed frenzy, and with good reason; Ohanian in particular has extolled Reddit as a bastion of free speech. In a comment left on Huffman's announcement, Wong attacks Huffman's claim, alleging that he was perfectly willing to eradicate controversial content in the past. "Back when I was running things, if there was anything racist, sexist, or homophobic I'd ban it right away," Huffman allegedly told Wong at the height of controversy during Wong's tenure as CEO. In fact, Wong claims that Reddit's leaders have been pushing for some time to ban the site's most controversial communities, and that Pao, ironically, was the one keeping them alive.

"The most delicious part of this is that on at least two separate occasions, the board pressured [Pao] to outright ban all the hate subreddits in a sweeping purge," Wong wrote. "She resisted, knowing the community, claiming it would be a shitshow," Wong continued, claiming that Pao was inclined to uphold the policies Wong put in place. (For more on those policies, see Wong's barn burner of a blog post from last September: "Every man is responsible for his own soul.") And why is this so "delicious?" Only because Pao has been the subject of monstrous rage from a coalition of Reddit users who made her out to be an apocalyptic tyrant of censorship.

"She is literally Silicon Valley's #1 feminist hero."

Wong claims that Pao would have been the perfect defender for Reddit's trolls especially considering her recent legacy as a gender discrimination crusader. "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," Wong wrote. "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." That assumption is obviously debatable, but Wong seems unambiguous about a more crucial point: Reddit's good old boys' club won't be the mighty defender of unlimited speech that the site's revolting users had hoped for.

"Now she's gone," Wong wrote, "and [Huffman] has the moral authority as a co-founder to move ahead with the purge. 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."

As for his own future prospects? Wong isn't terribly optimistic. "I'm probably unhireable now," he wrote. "I'm pretty sure no one will ever hire me as CEO or any other executive position again."