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Former Reddit CEO Ellen Pao speaks out against Internet trolls

July 16, 2015, 5:56 PM UTC
Ellen Pao arrives at San Francisco Superior Court in San Francisco
Ellen Pao arrives at San Francisco Superior Court in San Francisco, California March 3, 2015. Pao, a former partner at prominent Silicon Valley venture capital firm Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers, is seeking $16 million for discrimination and retaliation in a lawsuit against the firm, a Kleiner attorney said earlier this month. Kleiner has denied the accusations of discrimination and retaliation, along with accusations that it did not take reasonable steps to prevent discrimination. REUTERS/Robert Galbraith (UNITED STATES - Tags: BUSINESS SCIENCE TECHNOLOGY LAW) - RTR4RX47
Photograph by Robert Galbraith — Reuters

Former Reddit CEO Ellen Pao is making headlines once again. But this time she’s written one. The topic? Internet trolls.

In a Washington Post editorial, Pao, who recently stepped down from the top post at Reddit, discussed her experience over the last few weeks with cyberbullying and online harassment. Her saga at Reddit ends just months after she lost a high-profile gender discrimination case against Kleiner Perkins Caulfield & Byers.

“I have just endured one of the largest trolling attacks in history. And I have just been blessed with the most astonishing human responses to that attack,” she wrote. “What happened to me while head of the popular online forum Reddit for the past eight months is important to consider as we confront the ways in which the Internet is evolving.”

Freedom of expression, she continued, is a double-edged sword. “Balancing free expression with privacy and the protection of participants has always been a challenge for open-content platforms on the Internet. But that balancing act is getting harder. The trolls are winning,” wrote Pao.

She detailed how she was targeted for taking down sections of Reddit with repeat harassers as well as for removing revenge porn. “Then, after making these policy changes to prevent and ban harassment, I, along with several colleagues, was targeted with harassing messages, attempts to post my private information online and death threats. These were attempts to demean, shame and scare us into silence,” she added.

But Pao said she did receive words of support and encouragement. “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,” she concluded.