Jurgen Appeloreader comments 146
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Enlarge / Steve Huffman’s LinkedIn profile.
Reddit has some site rules.
A key one is that the site’s users must follow the rules or be barred from participating in discussions.
Then there’s another rule, which we’ll call the Prime Directive, because who doesn’t like Star Trek.
This directive prohibits the site’s executives from editing comments to alter the site’s community voice. Breaching that directive is perhaps Reddit’s ultimate taboo.
But over the Thanksgiving holiday, Reddit CEO Steve Huffman conceded that he violated the directive.
Some negative comments directed at his username—”spez”—were substituted with the names of moderators of a pro-Donald Trump subreddit called “r/the_donald.”
I messed with the “fuck u/spez” comments, replacing “spez” with r/the_donald mods for about an hour.
It’s been a long week here trying to unwind the r/pizzagate stuff.
As much as we try to maintain a good relationship with you all, it does get old getting called a pedophile constantly.
As the CEO, I shouldn’t play such games, and it’s all fixed now. Our community team is pretty pissed at me, so I most assuredly won’t do this again.
Huffman did not immediately respond to a request for comment. His concession generated thousands of comments over the weekend.
The “r/pizzagate stuff” Huffman referenced concerns a conspiracy theory about a secret pedophile group, a pizza parlor in the nation’s capital, and Hillary Clinton’s campaign chief, John Podesta. Reddit banned the “Pizzagate” conspiracy board from the site because of a Reddit policy about posting personal information of others.
The move ushered in a wave of criticism against Huffman on Wednesday, and he responded by editing the comments.
Huffman wasn’t the only person targeted by angry redditors, either.
According to The Washington Post:
The Pizzagate conspiracy has led to some very real harassment of the people caught up in the theory, including the owner of the Comet Ping Pong pizzeria in Washington, James Alefantis.
Alefantis has received hundreds of death threats over the past couple of weeks, he told The New York Times this week, after Pizzagate enthusiasts decided that his restaurant was the secret headquarters of a child sex-trafficking ring run by Hillary Clinton and members of her inner circle.
The Huffman incident is believed to be the first known time an executive from the site altered comments.
Even Ellen Pao, the former Reddit CEO, didn’t change comments despite a barrage of insults levied at her last year as the site began cleaning up its community.
Disclosure: Ars and Reddit are owned by the same parent company, Advance Publications.