SAN FRANCISCO (CBS SF) — A high-profile Reddit employee is the third to resign in several weeks as the San-Francisco based company struggles to deal with hate speech and frustrated users.
Reddit’s Chief Engineer Bethanye Blount quit on Monday after having been with the company for less than two months.
“There are good people at reddit and I wish them all the best,” she tweeted Monday. “But I have concerns. There’s a lot of work ahead.”
Software engineer David Auerbach affirmed Blount’s convictions in a Slate article Tuesday, saying the website has an image and user problem that could be fixed by implementing a stigma system.
Auerbach notes Reddit has long struggled to address hate speech without angering the site’s users who are quick to protest against any block on free speech.
Following the resignation of interim CEO Ellen Pao last week, her replacement, Reddit co-founder Steve Huffman addressed how the company should deal with the issue in an Ask Me Anything forum.
Specifically asked about the subreddit /r/coontown, which is geared toward mocking black people, Huffman said that he doesn’t ever want to ban content, but that sometimes management has no choice “because we want to protect Reddit itself.”
Reddit has already taken action on shutting down subreddits that hosted illegal content like child porn.
But Auerbach argues Reddit still has a big hate speech problem, even if subreddit groups inciting it only make up 1 percent of Reddit’s 5 million registered active users.
“Reddit needs to build a wall to seal off that 1 percent,” Auerbach said. “Instead of policing their speech, Reddit just needs to classify it.”
That could be done by stigmatizing those particular groups and users who post with them with the subscript title “hate” after their name, Auerbach said. For example, “/r/coontownHATE or DylannStormRoofHATE for users.
This would be an easy way for moderators to keep toxicity out of their subreddits, he claims.
Auerbach said it’s important to note Pao didn’t quit over a free speech controversy, but rather because of the firing of Victoria Taylor, a popular employee who managed the“Ask Me Anything” interviews.
Moderators of the San Francisco-based sharing network shut down more than 250 subreddit boards in response. It also fueled an online petition to remove Pao stating “she will run Reddit into the ground” among other things.
In a Reddit post Sunday, former CEO Yishan Wong accused Reddit co-founder Alexis Ohanian for letting Pao take the blame for the firing of Taylor.