Reddit CEO Steve Huffman has sparked controversy after admitting that he used his position to modify comments on the site that criticized and insulted him.
Huffman confessed said he anonymously changed references to his username — “spez” — to that of a pro-Donald Trump subreddit — r/the_donald, The Verge report says.
The news comes after Reddit closed r/Pizzagate, a fake news story about a Washington pizza restaurant which was said to be the center of a child trafficking operation run by Hillary Clinton and her campaign chairman John Podesta.
After the fabricated piece of news went viral, the manager of the restaurant said he received several death threats and asked social networks to help him stop the conspiracy theory from spreading, reported BBC.
Owing to his requests and also because of the fact that it violated terms and conditions around posting an individual’s private information, Reddit decided to ban the Pizzagate subreddit which obviously irked the supporters of Donald Trump.
Many users repeatedly left comments to the effect of "f**k u/spez" and other abusive remarks. After a few days, members of "The_Donald" were shocked to find that their posts had changed without their knowledge or consent.
When angry users accused Reddit of censoring their posts, Huffman confessed that it was indeed him who had modified all their comments. He wrote,
“As much as we try to maintain a good relationship with you all, it does get old getting called a pedophile constantly. As the CEO, I shouldn’t play such games, and it’s all fixed now. Our community team is pretty pissed at me, so I most assuredly won’t do this again.”
While any sort of online attack or abuse is unacceptable, censoring or using one's power to silence users' voice is too. There are indeed other ways to deal with online criticism.