Former Reddit CEO Ellen Pao Says Trump Reddit Shouldn’t Exist

May 2nd, 2019 11:22 AM

Tech execs and influencers do not want to see conservative opinions on their platforms.

In an interview with Mother Jones, former Reddit CEO Ellen Pao slammed the existence of subreddits like The_Donald. She also strongly emphasized the need for tech companies to regulate in order to rid themselves of bullies and allow “actual conversation.” Pao also expressed the belief that tech companies lived in “fear” of their users, especially when it came to conservative groups.

The_Donald, a subreddit that promotes pro-Trump stories and opinions, was brought up almost immediately in the interview as an example of why Reddit is now bad. The interviewer asked, “ I was curious to get your take as someone who made key decisions to start banning these types of toxic subreddits.”

Pao said, “My guess is that there’s a lot of fear of people who are running and using The_Donald. It’s not a subreddit that is following the rules or should actually be there.” She attributed its existence to “fear,” saying that platform employees were afraid of the groups. “It is the fear of their users that limit them,” Pao said.

The answer to that problem? More regulation. “Regulation will give [the CEOs] an excuse to take on people and their bad behavior in a way that they won’t have to explain and defend,” she argued.

The former Reddit CEO wanted more people banned from Twitter and Reddit for “bullying.” “You have to get rid of people who are shouting people out of the public square,” she said. There was no point in keeping these people on the platforms to argue with them, since “we actually help these groups and ideas that are antithetical to our values proliferate. We encourage them and give them the spotlight. And they thrive. That is a complete fallacy in the theory of allowing them to stay on your platforms.”

The existence of these groups, according to Pao, was not acceptable. “They’re just wrong,” she said. “It’s interesting because I think people are just wrong and we haven’t admitted that yet.”

When she was Reddit CEO, Pao implemented many rules about hate speech. One of the most infamous rules was the use of off-site behavior to determine the ban of people on the site. Pao banned five different subreddits in 2015 because of off-site behavior. In the interview, she told Mother Jones that “There was just too much going on that was outside of Reddit and it was super coordinated and it was a loophole. People could do things elsewhere and then brigade a subreddit.”