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A week after Reddit CEO Steve Huffman conceded that he altered comments of his online critics on the site he co-founded, Huffman took to Reddit on Wednesday to apologize. He then unveiled r/all filtering and announced “a more proactive approach to policing” the site.
“I am sorry: I am sorry for compromising the trust you all have in Reddit, and I am sorry to those that I created work and stress for, particularly over the holidays,” he said. “It is heartbreaking to think that my actions distracted people from their family over the holiday; instigated harassment of our moderators; and may have harmed Reddit itself, which I love more than just about anything.”
Over the Thanksgiving holiday week, Huffman committed the ultimate Reddit taboo. He edited negative comments directed at him and substituted his handle with the names of moderators of a pro-Donald Trump subreddit called “r/the_donald.” Huffman, who goes by the handle “spez,” was under fire for banning the “Pizzagate” conspiracy board from the site because of breaches to a policy about posting personal information about others.
Huffman, in his Wednesday post, said he wouldn’t commit that Reddit sin again and that he hopes to regain the Reddit community’s trust.
While many users across the site found what I did funny or appreciated that I was standing up to the bullies (I received plenty of support from users of r/the_donald), many others did not.
I understand what I did has greater implications than my relationship with one community, and it is fair to raise the question of whether this erodes trust in Reddit.
I hope our transparency around this event is an indication that we take matters of trust seriously. Reddit is no longer the little website my college roommate, u/kn0thing, and I started more than 11 years ago.
It is a massive collection of communities that provides news, entertainment, and fulfillment for millions of people around the world, and I am continually humbled by what Reddit has grown into.
I will never risk your trust like this again, and we are updating our internal controls to prevent this sort of thing from happening in the future.
Along those lines, he said that the current climate of disrespect on Reddit “is not sustainable,” and relying on moderators isn’t enough. He said “we are now taking a more proactive approach to policing behavior that is detrimental to Reddit.”
We have identified hundreds of the most toxic users and are taking action against them, ranging from warnings to timeouts to permanent bans. Posts stickied on r/the_donald will no longer appear in r/all. r/all is not our frontpage, but is a popular listing that our most engaged users frequent, including myself.
The sticky feature was designed for moderators to make announcements or highlight specific posts.
It was not meant to circumvent organic voting, which r/the_donald does to slingshot posts into r/all, often in a manner that is antagonistic to the rest of the community.
We will continue taking on the most troublesome users, and going forward, if we do not see the situation improve, we will continue to take privileges from communities whose users continually cross the line—up to an outright ban.
Huffman also said in his Wednesday post that he was enabling filtering for all r/all users.
“Users have long asked to be able to customize r/all by removing specific communities they don’t want to see. We enabled this personalization,” Huffman said in an e-mail to Ars.
Disclosure: Ars and Reddit are owned by the same parent company, Advance Publications.