Yishan Wong, former CEO of Reddit, is going full hog on revealing insider information on the site's announcement pages. He posted on the site Tuesday night, saying that Ellen Pao was thrown under the bus and used freely as a scapegoat for the site's recent content policy changes.
But a Reddit user called out exactly what was happening in a post made a month ago, on the site's r/conspiracy subreddit.
"I think what's happening is that reddit admins will continue to move reddit more towards the mainstream – most of the administration supports this (it's their paycheck from advertisement, after all). They'll make gradual changes, letting CEOs take heat and be discarded when sufficient heat has been taken," wrote Reddit user MrowDeMrow.
The reason for this oustering, MrowDeMrow reasons, is that it'll enable the company to couch its future policies in a curtain of optimism rather than outrage.
"Our collective memories will be too short to notice that this trend is happening, and those who leave because they do notice will have their numbers more than replaced by more mainstream folks, arriving due to the changes in direction," the post continued.
"Our collective memories will be too short to notice that this trend is happening."
According to Wong, we're seeing the exact same thing, again. Those anti-harassment policies would give site administrators the power to ban subreddits based on their ability to potentially harm and harass people offline, and this elicited some foul responses from a vocal minority of users who claim it would encroach on the site's historic commitment to being a "bastion of free speech." Little did they know that the directive didn't even come from Pao.
"On at least two separate occasions, [Reddit's board of directors] pressed [Pao] to outright ban ALL the hate subreddits in a sweeping purge. She resisted, knowing the community, claiming it would be a shitshow," Wong wrote.
And it was a shitshow: users plastered the frontpage with swastikas and reactionary fat-shaming talk, and decried Pao in the only way the internet can: by comparing her to Hitler, calling her a North Korean dictator, and spouting sexist vitriol from every channel.
"It would have been very principled – the CEO of reddit, who once sued her previous employer for sexual discrimination, upholds free speech and tolerates the ugly side of humanity because it is so important to maintaining a platform for open discourse. It would have been unassailable," Wong's post continued.
So what did we learn here? We saw the best of Pao: she apparently took the hit for the company and continued being a regular user despite all the psychological firebombing that happened. As for what Wong believes (and mind you, he's not with the company anymore so take this with a grain of salt): this was a calculated plan to cushion the blow from the Reddit's money-making content policy changes—decisions and reasonings which were predicted and even precedented long before they actually happened. This damning account comes conveniently before Steve Huffman, current CEO of Reddit, plans to hold a Q&A session on Thursday afternoon to explain the site's content policy moving forward.
It's no surprise that any CEO sits under Damocles' sword; as the company's helmsman, they're frequently the one to bear the brunt of huge mistakes. But to hear of a company's own board cutting the string holding it—that's something else entirely.
jabronies as far as the eye can see pic.twitter.com/cbu3vj8BL4
— Charlie Warzel (@cwarzel) July 15, 2015