Reddit CEO Steve Huffman is at the centre of controversy after confessing that he edited comments made about him on the site by Donald Trump supporters.
Huffman, who co-founded Reddit with Alexis Ohanian in 2005 and goes by the username ‘spez’, admitted to changing abusive posts about him to mention the moderators of Reddit’s biggest pro-Trump subreddit, r/the_donald.
“Yep. I messed with the “fuck u/spez” comments, replacing “spez” with r/the_donald mods for about an hour,” he said in response to a post in which users called him out for that.
“As the CEO, I shouldn’t play such games, and it’s all fixed now,” Huffman said. “Our community team is pretty pissed at me, so I most assuredly won’t do this again.”
In another reply he admitted: “This was a case of me trolling the trolls for a bit.”
“It’s been a long week here trying to unwind the r/pizzagate stuff,” Huffman said to defend himself.
#Pizzagate refers to a fake news story that falsely claimed Hillary Clinto — aided by campaign chairman John Podesta — kidnapped, molested and trafficked children in the backrooms of a pizza restaurant called Comet Ping Pong in Washington, D.C.
Dozens of fabricated articles on #pizzagate and the fake child trafficking ring appeared on Facebook and conspiracy theory websites such as The New Nationalist and The Vigilant Citizen.
The New York Times debunked the story after the owner of Comet Ping Pong, James Alefantis, and his employees started getting abusive messages and death threats on their personal social media accounts.
The rumours also spread on Reddit, which eventually led management to intervene by closing the dedicated subreddit, citing problems with users posting an individual’s private information, which violates the platform’s terms and conditions.
Huffman added: “As much as we try to maintain a good relationship with you all, it does get old getting called a paedophile constantly.”
Huffman’s admission has angered many Reddit users who have said they believe that management secretly tampers with users’ messages that are deemed abusive.