Social Media

Details emerge about Victoria Taylor’s Reddit dismissal

Mike Isaac
Alexis Ohanian, Co-Founder and Executive Chair of Reddit.
Getty Images

Over the last week, the circumstances surrounding the dismissal of a Reddit employee, a move that led to a huge user uprising and the resignation of the site's interim chief executive, have been murky at best.

Now those details are starting to emerge.

In a post on Reddit late Sunday, Yishan Wong, Reddit's former chief executive and Ellen Pao's predecessor, accused Alexis Ohanian, a Reddit co-founder, of firing the employee, Victoria Taylor.

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In his description of the events, Mr. Wong said Mr. Ohanian, who at the time held the role of executive chairman, was trying to take control of the site's "ask me anything" forum, also known as AMAs. That popular section of Reddit was organized by Ms. Taylor and ran in conjunction with the volunteer moderators who govern the site.

"He had different ideas for AMAs, he didn't like Victoria's role, and decided to fire her," Mr. Wong wrote.

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The forum is one of the site's most popular sections, with more than 8.6 million subscribers. It has hosted question-and-answer sessions with people ranging from the rapper Snoop Dogg to President Barack Obama.

Ms. Taylor, a well-liked and highly visible Reddit employee, was the main point of contact between official Reddit employees and volunteer moderators. After learning of her firing in early July without any explanation from the site, Reddit's volunteer moderators protested by shutting down entire sections of the site.

The protest was the latest episode in nine months of tumult for Reddit, a highly popular Internet message board that has more than 160 million monthly visitors. During Ms. Pao's tenure, many users of the site were upset by moves they perceived as limiting free speech. In May, Reddit users revolted when the company instituted stricter guidelines against harassment on the site.

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After Ms. Taylor's departure, hundreds of thousands of Redditorscalled for Ms. Pao's resignation, which she ultimately submitted to the company on Friday. Mr. Ohanian will now be known as co-founder, though Reddit has not made clear what official role he will play in running the company.

"When the hate-train started up against Pao, Alexis should have been out front and center saying very clearly 'Ellen Pao did not make this decision, I did,' " wrote Mr. Wong, who abruptly quit in November 2014. " Instead, he just sat back and let her take the heat."

Mr. Ohanian previously alluded to his role in Ms. Taylor's departure, but has not said that he was the one to dismiss her.

Reddit has consistently declined to comment as to why Ms. Taylor was fired. Ms. Taylor has surfaced once to thank users for their support in a Reddit post, but has not explained the circumstances around her dismissal.

Representatives for Reddit, Ms. Pao and Ms. Taylor did not immediately respond to requests for comment. A spokeswoman for Mr. Ohanian declined to comment.

But in a response to Mr. Wong's post on Reddit, Mr. Ohanian again apologized and said the company did not handle the situation well, but declined to comment on specifics.

"I used to respect Alexis Ohanian," Mr. Wong wrote in his post on Reddit. "After this, not quite so much."