A week after quitting her plum $230,000 a year job as Reddit CEO, Ellen Pao has used a newspaper column in the US to take a swipe at “trolls” who she believed hounded her out of a job.
The freshly unemployed Pao has used a column in The Washington Post to out redditors who not only bullied her but allegedly made death threats too.
Pao fell on her CEO sword after eight months in the job after she sacked a fellow employee, Victoria Taylor; the whole affair eventually backfiring on Pao.
“I have just endured one of the largest trolling attacks in history,” she wrote in the newspaper column.
“The foundations of the internet were laid on free expression, but the founders just did not understand how effective their creation would be for the coordination and amplification of harassing behaviour. Or that the users who were the biggest bullies would be rewarded with attention for their behaviour. Or that young people would come to see this bullying as the norm — as something to emulate in an effort to one-up each other.
“The trolls are winning.”
On becoming Reddit CEO, Pao introduced a strict no harassment/ no porn policy that led her detractors to claim she was anti-free speech. She was subsequently racially abused online and a victim of sexist attacks including some people giving her the nickname “Chairman Pao”.
She ultimately resigned on Friday after an online position calling for her removal garnered more than 200,000 signatures.
Pao, however, has been somewhat of a divisive figure in the States ever since she tried to sue a former employee for $US16 million for claiming the firm had failed to promote her because of her gender and race. Pao lost the case, was forced to pay damages and it was later claimed it was merely a money grab on her part as her husband was facing financial problems.
But her column wasn’t without praise for her sympathisers. Pao said she had also received many messages of support too.
“Soon, I was receiving hundreds of messages a day, and at one point thousands. These messages were thoughtful, well-written and heartfelt, in stark contrast to the trolling messages, which were usually made up of little more than four-letter words. Many shared their own stories of harassment and thanked us for our stance,” she wrote in her column.
“Some apologised for their own trollish behaviour and promised they had reformed.
“In the battle for the internet, the power of humanity to overcome hate gives me hope. I’m rooting for the humans over the trolls. I know we can win.”