Alexis Ohanian, co-founder of Reddit, has resigned from the company’s board, asked that the position be filled with a black candidate, and pledged to invest his future gains through his company stock to the black community.
The resignation comes as all social media face scrutiny for their roles in enabling the spread of racial and other hatred, with Reddit in particular being cited by many for allowing such messaging and group trolling through The_Donald and other subreddits. Last week, Reddit’s former CEO, Ellen K. Pao, publicly criticized the platform, accusing its management of hypocrisy.
“I've resigned as a member of the reddit board, I have urged them to fill my seat with a black candidate, + I will use future gains on my Reddit stock to serve the black community, chiefly to curb racial hate, and I’m starting with a pledge of $1M to @kaepernick7’s @yourrightscamp,” Ohanian wrote on Friday.
He also posted a video saying in part: “I co-founded Reddit 15 years ago to help people find community and a sense of belonging. It is long overdue to do the right thing. I’m doing this for me, for my family, and for my country. I’m writing this as a father who needs to be able to answer his black daughter when she asks: “What did you do?”” Ohanian was referring to Alexis, his daughter with Serena Williams.
Reddit CEO and co-founder Steve Huffman announced that he would honor Ohanian’s request regarding his board successor, and used Reddit’s blog to state that the company is working on addressing its content policy problems.
“There is an unacceptable gap between our beliefs as people and a company, and what you see in our content policy… as Reddit has grown, alongside much good, it is facing its own challenges around hate and racism,” he wrote. “We have to acknowledge and accept responsibility for the role we have played… We are already working to fix these problems, and this is a promise for more urgency… We will update our content policy to include a vision for Reddit and its communities to aspire to, a statement on hate, the context for the rules, and a principle that Reddit isn’t to be used as a weapon.”