In an about-face, social media giant Reddit announced late Wednesday that it had fired a controversial administrator. As previously reported by the Washington Free Beacon, the company had banned discussion of administrator Aimee Challenor by name and blocked news articles that discussed Challenor’s ties to pedophiles.
The announcement came after a successful protest by large portions of Reddit’s userbase: Hundreds of subreddits, or forums, went private to protest the censorship. But the company’s decision to censor discussion was a troubling step for a platform that had previously built a reputation for being largely hands off on content moderation, relying on volunteer moderators to police forums. Social media platforms have faced increasing criticism for aggressive content moderation, but Reddit’s decentralized structure has protected it from much of the frustration.
Reddit CEO Steve Huffman posted on a major Reddit board, "As of today, the employee in question is no longer employed by Reddit. We built a relationship with her first as a mod and then through her contractor work on RPAN [Reddit’s video streaming network]. We did not adequately vet her background before formally hiring her."
"We’ve put significant effort into improving how we handle doxxing and harassment, and this employee was the subject of both," Huffman said. "In this case, we over-indexed on protection, which had serious consequences in terms of enforcement actions."
Doxxing is typically used to refer to the publication of private details about an individual, such as a home address. Reddit users expressed frustration in the comments of Huffman’s post that Reddit was using the term to describe the discussion of widely publicized news stories.
Reddit hired Challenor earlier this year. Users pointed out Challenor appointed her father as her campaign manager for a British election in 2017—after he had been charged with raping a 10-year-old girl. Challenor was suspended by the British Green Party when the news came to light, and later was expelled by the Liberal Democrats after her fiancé tweeted about his sexual interest in children.