Interim chief executive officer Ellen Pao — the subject of weeks of intense harassment after earlier decisions aimed, ironically, at curbing harassment on the site — took the heat and resigned last Friday.
Today, the company's new CEO and original co-founder Steve Huffman addressed the tone of Reddit in a post on the site. "The overwhelming majority of content on [R]eddit comes from wonderful, creative, funny, smart, and silly communities," he wrote. "There is also a dark side, communities whose purpose is reprehensible, and we don’t have any obligation to support them," he wrote.
In laying out his concerns, Huffman seemed to distance the site from its reputation as a place where almost anything (legal) goes online. "Neither Alexis [Ohanian] nor I created [R]eddit to be a bastion of free speech, but rather as a place where open and honest discussion can happen," he wrote.
But quick-eyed Redditors quickly pounced upon the "bastion of free speech" language in the post, pointing out that fellow co-founder Ohanian had actually used that exact language to describe the site's role in a 2012 interview with Forbes.
Asked what the Founding Fathers would think of Reddit, he responded: "A bastion of free speech on the World Wide Web? I bet they would like it."
For most of Reddit's history, administrators took a pretty hands-off approach to user content as long as it didn't violate laws. During Pao's tenure, some of that started to shift — with the site adopting an anti-harassment policy and banning a handful of sections that included some of the worst violations.
But even now, the site's rules say the site is "a pretty open platform and free speech place." A Reddit spokesperson did not immediately respond to a request for comment for this story.
A lot has happened to (and on) Reddit since Ohanian gave the 2012 quote, including both Huffman and Ohanian returning to work for the site. (They both left day-to-day operations back in 2009.)
But comparing how Ohanian seemed to view Reddit's role then with Huffman's post now says a lot about where Reddit is going.