Former Reddit CEO Ellen Pao warns 'the trolls are winning' on the battle of the internet

Reddit bills itself as the internet’s front page

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Ellen Pao, who recently stepped down as the CEO of Reddit, has warned that “the trolls are winning” the battle of the internet.

The lawyer and former interim Reddit CEO hit headlines recently after over 200,000 of the site’s users signed a petition calling for her resignation.

During her short tenure, Pao oversaw new policies involving subreddits  - dedicated forums which make up the website’s content.

The new rules banned harassment and saw sections of the site that attracted repeat offenders removed.

However, the decisions were regarded by some as a poorly implemented attacks on free speech.

In opinion piece for the Washington Post, Pao defended the new rules, and argued that it has become more challenging for open-content platforms to balance protecting free speech and its participants.

“The trolls are winning,” she wrote.

Citing figures that show widespread bullying online, particularly towards women and minorities, Pao said that the internet pioneers were “naïve” to the ways that the internet could be used to harm others.

“The founders just did not understand how effective their creation would be for the coordination and amplification of harassing behaviour.

“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.

Pao went on: “Reddit is the Internet, and it exhibits all the good, the bad and the ugly of the Internet.”


She went on to slam the harassment and death threats her and fellow Reddit colleagues faced as “attempts to demean, shame and scare us into silence.”

In an argument which is unlikely to sit well with Redditors rallying against the community becoming more corporate, she wrote that it must remove its “ugly” side in order “attract more mainstream audiences and bring in the big-budget advertisers”.

She concluded: “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."