Reddit’s new CEO is hinting at big changes — here’s what we know

The past weekend has been a whirlwind in the Reddit world. Three days ago, Ellen Pao announced that she will be stepping down as interim CEO of the website. Pao has been replaced by co-founder Steve Huffman, who started the website with his college roommate Alexis Ohanian back in 2005. “It became clear that the board and I had a different view on the ability of Reddit to grow this year,” Pao told The New York Times. “Because of that, it made sense to bring someone in that shared the same view.”

On Saturday, in an AMA with Huffman, it became quite clear that Reddit will be seeing some major changes.  “I know we have a lot of work to do,” Huffman said in his opening message for the AMA. “One of my first priorities is to re-establish a relationship with the community.” Huffman also plans on keeping communication lines wide open by conducting weekly AMAs, he further explained.

One of Pao’s major controversial moves involved anti-harassment: banning subreddits and communities that promoted hate speech (such as /rfatpeoplehate, or FPH), which many Redditors viewed to be encroaching on their freedom of speech. It looks as though Steve Huffman is going to be changing the policy on that, but so that the forum can still be open while remaining a place where users can “feel safe.” However, when asked whether they’ll be bringing back the banned subreddits, Huffman answered:

However, he did mention that banning subreddits will be a last resort. “I want to be very clear: I don’t want to ever ban content,” he explained in the AMA. “Sometimes, however, I feel we have no choice because we want to protect reddit itself.”

Though he’s planning on making some major changes, one thing will stay the same: the popular communications director and moderator Victoria Taylor will not be rehired. When Taylor was suddenly let go, it caused an uproar among Redditors and caused many to shut down their subreddits in protest of the decision.

“I know (Taylor) was well-loved by many moderators, and I’m very sorry at how everything played out. It could have been handled much better,” he explained. “However, she was let go for specific reasons, which I obviously will not share, and we will stand by that decision. What we will absolutely do is make sure we have dedicate[d] people internally to help manage the relationships between moderators and guests on reddit. I’m still getting to know everyone here, and I expect this will be an ongoing conversation between you all and I.”

The general theme of the AMA: Huffman’s main objective is to strike a solid balance between keeping Reddit safe, open, and ever-growing. “. . . of course the board wants to see growth,” he explained in the AMA. “I want to see growth too. We’re not going to see much growth without serious product efforts, and we’re not going to get serious product efforts without more resources. Fortunately, I have the ability to get those resources, so that’s what I’ll do.”

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