Reddit is now operating normally, after a huge protest that took place over the weekend. The protest was led by subreddit Community Managers. It shut down many sections of the massively popular site. Included in the shutdown was the gaming subsection, r/gaming.
However, in the wake of the protests, a petition to remove Ellen Pao as CEO has gathered hundreds of thousands of signatures.
Reddit, known as the front page of the internet, is a social media site that consolidates forums on thousands of topics. It has 36 million users and has hosted some controversial content. Free speech advocates have cherished reddit’s historical openness. But others decry its lack of controls.
Reddit has been criticized for allowing too much objectionable content, including harassment and hate speech. As Adrian Chen wrote on Gawker: “Reddit’s laissez-faire attitude towards offensive speech has led to a vast underbelly that rivals anything on the notorious cesspool 4chan.” (The site 4chan allows posters to be completely anonymous.)
The current trouble on reddit started July 2, when news broke about the dismissal of popular reddit employee Victoria Taylor. Taylor is known for her management of the Ask Me Anything feature. Ask Me Anything allows users to ask questions of celebrities. President Obama participated in Ask Me Anything in 2012.
After Taylor was dismissed, many of reddit’s most popular communities (known as subreddits) were set to “private.” Subreddits that shut down included r/gaming, with more than 8 million subscribers, and r/movies, with more than 7 million subscribers.
Many factors appear to have contributed to causing the reddit protests. One factor is that a few months ago a new standard was put in place to reduce harassment. Some of the more notorious subreddits, like r/FatPeopleHate, were banned. Another factor is that volunteer subredditors want more input into reddit policies. The push toward commercialization of reddit may also be a factor.