In an article for The Washington Post, Pao says trolls are winning the “battle for the internet”. She says that, while at Reddit, she and several colleagues, were targeted with harassing messages, attempts to post her private information online and death threats.
I have just endured one of the largest trolling attacks in history. And I have just been blessed with the most astonishing human responses to that attack…Balancing free expression with privacy and the protection of participants has always been a challenge for open-content platforms on the Internet. But that balancing act is getting harder. The trolls are winning.
The foundations of the Internet were laid on free expression, but the founders just did not understand how effective their creation would be for the coordination and amplification of harassing behavior. Or that the users who were the biggest bullies would be rewarded with attention for their behavior. Or that young people would come to see this bullying as the norm — as something to emulate in an effort to one-up each other…
No one has figured out the best place to draw the line between bad and ugly — or whether that line can support a viable business model. So it’s left to all of us to figure it out, to call out abuse when we see it. As the trolls on Reddit grew louder and more harassing in recent weeks, another group of users became more vocal. First a few sent positive messages. Then a few more. Soon, I was receiving hundreds of messages a day, and at one point thousands. These messages were thoughtful, well-written and heartfelt…As the threats became really violent, people ended their messages with “stay safe.” Eventually, users started responding on Reddit itself, using accurate information and supportive messages to fight back against the trolls. In the battle for the Internet, the power of humanity to overcome hate gives me hope. I’m rooting for the humans over the trolls. I know we can win.
Blount quits after less than two months on the job as Reddit Chief Engineer, having come there from Facebook. She said her move is not directly linked to Pao’s exit, but noted that she had lost confidence in the new direction of the company, and that she could not deliver on promises being made to the community.
I feel like there are going be some big bumps on the road ahead for Reddit. Along the way, there are some very aggressive implied promises being made to the community — in comments to mods, quotes from board members — and they’re going to have some pretty big challenges in meeting those implied promises.
Blount says she believes Pao’s exit was an indirect consequence of gender discrimination, and that Pao had been placed on a “glass cliff” — a term used to describe women being set up for failure by being put in leadership roles during crises.
Victoria wasn’t on a glass cliff. But it’s hard for me to see it any other way than Ellen was. [However] I wouldn’t say my decision to leave was directly related to my gender.
Pao resigns from Reddit (statement). She will be replaced by Huffman, but will remain as an adviser to Reddit’s board for the remainder of 2015.
It became clear that the board and I had a different view on the ability of Reddit to grow this year. Because of that, it made sense to bring someone in that shared the same view.
I just want to remind everyone that I am just another human; I have a family, and I have feelings. Everyone attacked on reddit is just another person like you and me. When people make something up to attack me or someone else, it spreads, and we eventually will see it. And we will feel bad, not just about what was said. Also because it undercuts the authenticity of reddit and shakes our faith in humanity.
Reddit board member, Altman:
Ellen has done a phenomenal job, especially in the last few months.
Pao makes an announcement as to how she plans on fixing her mistakes on Reddit.
We screwed up. Not just on July 2, but also over the past several years. We haven’t communicated well, and we have surprised moderators and the community with big changes. We have apologized and made promises to you, the moderators and the community, over many years, but time and again, we haven’t delivered on them. When you’ve had feedback or requests, we haven’t always been responsive. The mods and the community have lost trust in me and in us, the administrators of reddit.
Today, we acknowledge this long history of mistakes. We are grateful for all you do for reddit, and the buck stops with me …
I know these are just words, and it may be hard for you to believe us. I don’t have all the answers, and it will take time for us to deliver concrete results. I mean it when I say we screwed up, and we want to have a meaningful ongoing discussion. I know we’ve drifted out of touch with the community as we’ve grown and added more people, and we want to connect more. I and the team are committed to talking more often with the community, starting now.
Thank you for listening. Please share feedback here. Our team is ready to respond to comments.
Pao apologizes to the Reddit community for how the company handled Taylor’s firing.
I’m sorry we let our community down yesterday. We should have informed our community moderators about the transition and worked through it with them…Most of the community is made up of thoughtful people, and they can appreciate what we all do, even if we don’t always agree.
Pao also say the tens of thousands of calls from irate users for her to resign do not faze her.
It’s an exciting job. We’re doing a lot behind the scenes that people have not seen yet.
Pao says Kleiner is improperly publicizing confidential negotiations and asking her to pay unreasonable legal costs. The filing says Pao should not have to pay Kleiner’s “gargantuan and unreasonable charges” of nearly $1 million for expert witnesses and trial expenses. Pao claims that her request for $2.7 million to cover her costs to forgo an appeal, was part of a confidential discussion between attorneys for the two sides, and not intended to be publicized. Kleiner’s attorneys say that it was Pao who made the case so expensive:
If counsel for plaintiff wanted the demand to be confidential he should have said so.
Pao enrages the users of Reddit by deleting /r/fatpeoplehate, a major subreddit with over one hundred and fifty thousand users, as well as four smaller subreddits. Pao says the act is to stop harassment:
We want as little involvement as possible in managing these interactions but will be involved when needed to protect privacy and free expression, and to prevent harassment…It is not easy to balance these values, especially as the Internet evolves. We are learning and hopefully improving as we move forward. We want to be open about our involvement: We will ban subreddits that allow their communities to use the subreddit as a platform to harass individuals when moderators don’t take action. We’re banning behavior, not ideas.
Users accuse Pao for censorship, even those that don’t like the subreddit.
In an attempt to reduce the possibility of a wage gap existing within Reddit, Interim CEO Pao removes the ability of employees to negotiate for their wages at reddit. Instead employees are offered a salary on a take it or leave it basis. This is due to findings that men are better at negotiating their salaries and as such usually end up with a slightly better salary than their female counterparts. Pao urges other companies to do the same, claiming that it is an important step in gender equality.
When somebody comes in we figure out what role they’re applying for, what band they’re in and we give them what we think is a fair salary in that band. It takes a lot of tension out of the process, we’ve had people apply to Reddit just because of that policy.