Reddit CEO Discusses Free Speech and Gawker Ban in Internal Memo

October 17, 2012 -

A war of words between Gawker Media and the Reddit community might make for some marvelous online drama, but it doesn't sit well with Wishan Wong, chief executive of Reddit. An internal memo obtained by Gawker and attributed Wong, reveals that Reddit's CEO thinks free speech is paramount to the community but that the ban on Gawker links is not a good idea.

First let's step back and explain what this is all about. The trouble began with Gawker writer Adrian Chen outing a Texas programmer named Michael Brutsch AKA "Violentacrez," a mean-spirited troll who enjoyed creating distasteful subreddits like "Jailbait" (which allowed people to post pictures of under-age girls) and engaging in all kinds of ill-behavior like race baiting. Chen decided that he would reveal his real name to the world.

Now this put Reddit and its moderators in a bad position because, while they acknowledged that Brutsch's behavior and subreddits were beyond distasteful, they also couldn't support outing him the way Gawker did. It also didn't help that Violentacrez has a close relationships with Reddit community managers. So community managers and moderators decided that they would ban all Gawker links on Reddit.

Now here is what Wong had to say about the whole affair in an internal memo:

"We stand for free speech," Wong began. "This means we are not going to ban distasteful subreddits. We will not ban legal content even if we find it odious or if we personally condemn it. Not because that’s the law in the United States – because as many people have pointed out, privately-owned forums are under no obligation to uphold it – but because we believe in that ideal independently, and that’s what we want to promote on our platform. We are clarifying that now because in the past it wasn’t clear, and (to be honest) in the past we were not completely independent and there were other pressures acting on reddit. Now it’s just reddit, and we serve the community, we serve the ideals of free speech, and we hope to ultimately be a universal platform for human discourse (cat pictures are a form of discourse)."

"Let’s be honest," Wong added. "This ban on links from the Gawker network is not making Reddit look so good."

Wong goes on to say that the Gawker media ban was "ineffective" and was only serving to add more fuel to the fire.

Source: Venture Beat


Comments

Re: Reddit CEO Discusses Free Speech and Gawker Ban in ...

The ban on Gawker links doesn't make Reddit look bad, it makes them look petty and hypocritical.

The allowing of the likes of Violentacrez and all he said/posted in the first place? That is god effing awful.

Re: Reddit CEO Discusses Free Speech and Gawker Ban in ...

The problem as I've come to understand it is less with "not banning offensive but legal content" and more with "not doing a thing about illegal content (such as r/creepshots) until we get five thousand media groups calling us out for it".

 
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