After Reddit shut down a forum about “PizzaGate” — a discussion about the allegation that a restaurant had ties to a child-abuse ring supposedly connected to Hillary Clinton’s former campaign chairman, John Podesta — CEO Steve Huffman admitted that he took negative posts directed at him and switched his username with the username of pro-Trump moderators.
The Washington Times reported:
Steve Huffman, Reddit’s top executive, admitted Thursday to editing several comments posted online by other Reddit users after he personally came under fire this week following the website’s decision to shut down a forum devoted to a conspiracy theory involving Hillary Clinton’s recent presidential campaign and a supposed pedophile ring operated out of a D.C. pizzeria.
Prior to being shutdown this week, Reddit’s “Pizzagate” forum served as a platform for users who claim the restaurant, Comet Ping Pong, is at the center of a child-abuse ring tied to John Podesta, Mrs. Clinton’s former campaign manager.
Rumors of the supposed scandal began circulating prior to the Nov. 8 election as a result of leaked emails obtained from Mr. Podesta’s personal Gmail account, and eventually resulted in the pizzeria’s owner, James Alefantis, contacting the FBI after receiving dozens of harassing phone calls and internet messages from proponents of the conspiracy, The New York Times reported.
Reddit’s decision to purge the Pizzagate forum from one of the world’s most popular websites quickly prompted a backlash aimed at its CEO, and users soon took towards lashing out at Mr. Huffman on his own platform by publishing obscenity-laced comments directed toward Mr. Huffman’s personal Reddit account, “spez.”
Mr. Huffman revealed Thursday that he spent “about an hour” personally modifying those obscene comments by replacing his own user name with the handles of moderators who oversee a Reddit forum devoted to Mr. Trump, r/the_donald, in turn directing those rude remarks to pro-Trump supporters.
On the banned “PizzaGate” page, a message read: “We don’t want witchhunts on our site,” after the New York Times ran their report.
Huffman wrote: “It’s been a long week here trying to unwind the r/pizzagate stuff. 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,” Huffman added. “Our community team is pretty pissed at me, so I most assuredly won’t do this again.”
In a follow-up post, Huffman claimed that he hadn’t abused his position in the past according to The Washington Times. “This was a case of me trolling the trolls for a bit,” Huffman wrote.
Huffman’s admission that “as the CEO, I shouldn’t play such games,” is quite an understatement, and despite his assertion, it isn’t clear that “it’s all fixed now.”
While negative comments online can get out of hand and be upsetting, a CEO shouldn’t abuse his privileges in such a way. Huffman, as CEO of a company that is all about internet discussion, should be able to handle comments without behaving in a way that clearly undermines the company.