The CEO has admitted to editing comments after receiving angry messages.
Steve Huffman co-founded Reddit in 2005 with Alexis Ohanian and recently admitted to editing comments from supporters of Donald Trump. Huffman says that he edited negative mentions of him (user name “spez” on reddit) to instead be directed towards mods of the r/the_donald subreddit, the site’s largest board for the president elect.
“Yep. I messed with the “fuck u/spez” comments, replacing “spez” with r/the_donald mods for about an hour,” he wrote.
Huffman’s actions follow pizzagate, a fake news story which circled the web, about a pizza restaurant which served as the center for a child trafficking ring supposedly run by Hillary Clinton. Huffman closed the pizzagate subreddit due to it violating the site’s terms and conditions for posting someone’s personal information.
The closure caused a backlash of negative messages aimed at Huffman, who then proceeded to begin editing comments as an act of retribution. “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,” he wrote.
Huffman previously left reddit to start Hipmunk in 2010, only to return to replace Ellen Pao. Pao previously caused an upset in the reddit community by firing community manager Victoria Taylor and closing several popular threads. Huffman’s actions do little to restore the community’s faith in the site.
Despite the apology, Huffman’s actions are not to be taken lightly. Editing comments in such a way is a violation of the users’ trust, and it is sad to see that the event also had a political twist. Much of Donald Trump’s support during the US election arose from voters mistrusting the media. While the editing scandal most likely was no more than a case of personal rivalry between Huffman and the other users, it remains, along with his choice to involve the mods from r/the_donald, as a small, but good example of why that kind of mistrust exists.