When Steve Huffman replaced Ellen Pao as CEO of Reddit, many of the site’s most vocal users rejoiced, declaring the transition a victory for free speech online.

But as the old saying goes, careful what you wish for.

Yesterday, Huffman announced that he would be holding an AMA (an open Q&A forum on the site) this Thursday at 1 PM PST to discuss the future of Reddit. Specifically, he intends to discuss how the site should deal with Reddit’s much publicized “dark side,” which includes subreddits geared toward racism and misogyny.

Steve Huffman (Via Hipmunk.com)

Steve Huffman (Via Hipmunk.com)

But what will come as a shock to many users is the fact that Huffman, who co-created Reddit, now claims the site was never intended as a “bastion of free speech,” and that some users “should not be here at all.”

“The overwhelming majority of content on reddit comes from wonderful, creative, funny, smart, and silly communities,” Huffman said. “That is what makes reddit great. There is also a dark side, communities whose purpose is reprehensible, and we don’t have any obligation to support them.”

The announcement seems to indicate that Huffman may actually be more in favor of censoring the site than Pao, who was heavily criticized for banning certain subreddits. This sentiment was echoed by former Reddit CEO Yishan Wong who weighed in, telling users who called for Pao’s ousting that they’ve lost their most important ally.

What all the white-power racist-sexist neckbeards don’t understand is that with [Pao] at the head of the company, the company would be immune to accusations of promoting sexism and racism: she is literally Silicon Valley’s #1 Feminist Hero, so any “SJWs” would have a hard time attacking the company for intentionally creating a bastion (heh) of sexist/racist content… Well, now she’s gone (you did it reddit!), and [Huffman] has the moral authority as a co-founder to move ahead with the purge. We tried to let you govern yourselves and you failed, so now The Man is going to set some Rules. Admittedly, I can’t say I’m terribly upset.
Via Reddit user /yishan.

Via Reddit user /yishan.

To many, Wong’s comments will seem like a major departure from his stance while he was CEO. After all, this was the man who wrote the blog post “Every Man Is Responsible For His Own Soul” in response to criticism about hacked celebrity nudes appearing on Reddit. But Wong is aware of this, and owns up to the contradiction.

“The free speech policy was something I formalized because it seemed like the wiser course at the time,” wrote Wong. “I didn’t anticipate what (some) redditors would decide to do with freedom. reddit has become a lot bigger - yes, a lot better - AND a lot worse. I have to take responsibility.”

While no one knows exactly what Huffman’s plans are, one thing is certain. Reddit’s debate about how to deal with controversial subredits did not die with Ellen Pao’s departure.

(Source: Time, Gawker, BBC)