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Dribbble’s CEO accused of suspending an artist’s account for criticizing the site’s changes

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A prominent artist on Dribbble is accusing the portfolio-sharing platform’s CEO of suspending his account after a series of tweets criticizing changes to the site. Artist Timothy J. Reynolds has been a vocal critic of Dribbble’s changing policies since the company was acquired by Tiny in 2017. On Tuesday, he quote-tweeted CEO Zack Onisko’s Twitter thread of changes coming to the site to share his criticisms, and found himself blocked by the CEO and his Dribbble account suspended.

Dribbble’s last remaining co-founder, Dan Cederholm, left the company this week, leaving Onisko at the helm. Onisko highlighted a series of changes coming to the site, which include the phasing out of global leaderboards in favor of a new algorithm that decides which designers will get featured on the homepage. A longtime Dribbble user with over 50,000 followers, Reynolds voiced his concerns with the company’s new leadership and the rising cost of paywalls for clients to search for designers.

The Verge reached out to Reynolds, who confirmed that he couldn’t find any instance where he broke the site’s guidelines. Reynolds contacted Dribbble support several times and was informed that his account had been temporarily suspended after receiving multiple flags from the community, despite him not having posted on the site in five months (he still logs in every day).

The Verge messaged Dribbble’s CEO via Twitter DM asking if he had time to talk, and Reynolds regained access to his account a few minutes after. Onisko responded shortly after this article was published that he had been on a flight at the time of The Verge’s first inquiry and that Dribbble’s press team hadn’t received two separate inquiries The Verge sent through the website’s contact form.

A Dribbble spokesperson said the ban was triggered by community reports, not the company’s CEO. The reports were found to be related to “conduct and comments outside of Dribbble,” so Reynolds was unsuspended.

“Any suspensions that happen on the Dribbble site are implemented by our user operations team, not by our CEO or any other Dribbble employee,” the spokesperson said. “In this specific case, community flags triggered a temporary suspension. Our user operations team then investigated the flags during the past day. Once they determined these flags were due to conduct and comments outside of Dribbble, the suspension was lifted.”

A growing number of Dribbble users have been questioning the site’s business decisions since the acquisition. The platform has been criticized for raising prices for both users and clients looking for artists, and working with sponsors like Fiverr, which many designers say devalues the quality of their work.

Update and correction June 26th, 4:05PM ET: This story has been updated with comment from Dribbble. An earlier version of this post stated Dribbble hosted design contests that claimed rights to submissions. Dribbble itself does not host design contests, but has promoted companies that host them on its platform. We regret the error.