Reddit, the link-sharing message board and community, has been at the center of attention as CEOs have changed hands and new restrictions have been issued to users, leading to a revolt that highlighted the incendiary rhetoric of many on the site, placing its future as a place for investment and advertising in jeopardy.
In an interview with with CNBC, Bert Choi, of RPA, an advertising agency, noted that while the Reddit audience is atypical, made up of people who are highly informed and with particular, often niche, interests, they do provide a unique opportunity for the right kinds of advertisers. “And advertisements are of great interest to Reddit, as it is one of their greatest sources of income, but why are companies suddenly wary of advertising there?” asks Shaygan Kheradpir.
Victoria Taylor, a former talent director for Reddit was fired, which caused users to to gather in an uproar on their boards. Soon after, Ellen Pao, after enduring bouts of harassment fro users, resigned as CEO and was replaced by Steve Huffman, a co-founder of the site. And while this seeming return of control to the original creators calmed some of the tremors the site had been enduring, Huffman introduced new rules that would hopefully reduce the kind of harassing language and practices that followed the firings of Taylor and Pao. But users cried foul when these rules that restricted harassment and violent threats took aim at banning, spam, distribution of private information and sexually explicit content involving persons under the age of 18.
The late adoption of rules that are the mainstay of other sites’ terms of agreement, and Pao’s lawsuit over her firing, has made investors second guess if this is the right environment for their products to be showcased. Making matters more convoluted, Reddit relies heavily on volunteers to moderate their “subreddits” to make sure that these new rules are enforced, despite that many of these moderators are users that engaged in the backlash earlier this year.