June 21, 2024


Sapiens Digital

Reddit Co-Founder Resigns From Board, Urges Members to Replace Him With Black Candidate

3 min read

Alexis Ohanian and daughter Alexis Olympia (Photo by Paul Kane/Getty Images)

Reddit co-founder Alexis Ohanian has resigned from the company’s board as the social media site faces criticism for its continued promotion of hate and racism. 

“It is long overdue to do the right thing. I’m doing this for me, for my family, and for my country,” wrote Ohanian, who is married to tennis champion Serena Williams. 

“I’m writing this as a father who needs to be able to answer his black daughter when she asks: ‘What did you do?,’” he added in his Friday blog post

Ohanian is urging Reddit’s board of directors to fill his seat with a black candidate. “I believe resignation can actually be an act of leadership from people in power right now. To everyone fighting to fix our broken nation: do not stop,” he added. 

Reddit has 430 million monthly active users, making it one of the most popular social media platforms on the internet. But over the years, the company has been criticized for allowing hate speech, abuse, and conspiracy theories to circulate in its various subforums, including one devoted to President Trump known as The_Donald.

In 2018, Reddit’s current CEO and other co-founder Steve Huffman sparked controversy when he said open racism on the platform was permitted, although he didn’t welcome it. “There exist repugnant views in the world,” Huffman wrote at the time. “As a result, these views may also exist on Reddit. I don’t want them to exist on Reddit any more than I want them to exist in the world, but I believe that presenting a sanitized view of humanity does us all a disservice. It’s up to all of us to reject these views.”

On Monday, Huffman tried to strike a different tone in the wake of the George Floyd protests and recent civil unrest in the US. “We do not tolerate hate, racism, and violence, and while we have work to do to fight these on our platform, our values are clear,” he wrote in a post.

Still, Huffman’s statement isn’t sitting well with one of Reddit’s biggest critics. Ellen Pao briefly led the company as CEO until 2015 when she resigned after trying to curb harassment on the site. 

“I am obligated to call you out: You should have shut down the_donald instead of amplifying it and its hate, racism, and violence,” she said in a tweet to Reddit on Tuesday. “So much of what is happening now lies at your feet. You don’t get to say BLM (Black Lives Matter) when Reddit nurtures and monetizes white supremacy and hate all day long.”

Reddit didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment. It’s also unclear whether the company plans on changing its content-moderation policies.

As for Ohanian, he plans on using his stock shares in Reddit to serve the black community, starting with a $1 million pledge to former NFL player Colin Kaepernick’s Know Your Rights Camp project.

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