Reddit CEO Steve Huffman has found himself in a whole heap of trouble after he admitted that he modified comments about him left on the site from Trump supporters.
He has apologised for changing messages with mentions of him inside the sites largest forum for the President-elect and his actions have dredged up previous concerns that Reddit simply cannot work with their community.
It all started when a fake news story regarding a pizza place known as Comet Ping Pong in Washington started circulating online. The fake stories gained momentum through blogs and social media and soon a subreddit called “r/Pizzagate” emerged with the mission of proving the fake stories as true.
The fake stories were recycled conspiracy theories that claimed the restaurant was the site of a child abuse ring led by Hillary Clinton and her campaign manager John D. Podesta.
Reddit quickly shut r/Pizzagate down and when you search for it the community is listed as banned with Reddit adding – “We don’t want witchhunts on our site.” Users from r/The-Donald were unhappy with the decision to shut it down and started bombarding the forum with abusive messages, many of which were directed to Huffman.
He decided to take action in a childlike game of modifying the abusive messages to include the names of the moderators of the Trump forum so the abusive messages then bounced back to them. One of the moderators of the forum caught wind of what was going on and alerted users that their post had been changed.
Huffman was forced to admit in that thread that he had changed the messages and expressed regret for his behaviour. In his response on the forum he said the following.
“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.”
This behaviour from the CEO of Reddit raises big questions over the credibility of the site and whether users can actually trust the staff of Reddit. One user correctly pointed out that it calls into question the validity of any post made on the entire site.
They are right, theoretically if the CEO changed messages like this because he was upset at the comments being directed towards him, anything could have been altered or changed on the site without users knowing. There has been little sympathy for Huffman but he is not the first CEO to draw heat from the Reddit community.
Last year Ellen Pao was forced to resign as CEO after a petition of more than 200,000 signatures after she had shut down several subreddits accused of indulging in hateful behaviour. Huffman replaced her as CEO is is one of the original founders of the site.
He left Reddit to start travel site Hipmunk in 2010 and while the Pao saga is in the past for Reddit, Huffman’s admission will be of concern to users who are growing communities on the platform as they could feel that the sites credibility has been destroyed by his moves.