Ellen Pao keeps trying to make Ellen Pao happen. But, to paraphrase her own words – the world “doesn’t seem to think she’s important.”
This former Reddit CEO was forced to quit after a backlash caused by her (early) attempts to muzzle and censor free and unruly-by-nature Reddit communities. And although her “legacy” in this sense has since been gaining more and more momentum on that fairly unique social platform – few credit or still remember Pao as the pioneer of the current woeful policies.
Pao, who has since co-founded a diversity consulting non-profit called “Project Include,” (which is exactly what it sounds like it is) also in the meanwhile lost a gender discrimination lawsuit against former employers Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers.
But there are still friendly outlets like The Guardian who will give her space and time, and now, it’s time for Pao to offer her two cents on free speech “moderation” on giant social media in the context of their treatment of ills such as racism, and presidents such as Donald Trump.
Under the headline, “‘They don’t think it’s important’: Ellen Pao on why Facebook can’t beat hate” – Pao – whose approach to Reddit back in the day is described cynically as “a more holistic view of protecting free expression” – shares lessons she thinks she learned while attempting to “detoxify Reddit” (Guardian’s choice of words).
The issue is Facebook allowing Trump to have a voice on the platform, even as others like Twitter, Reddit itself, and YouTube went about labeling his posts, banning subreddits, etc., all on hate speech grounds.
So why is Facebook holding out? According to Pao, Facebook has an unintelligible set of rules for moderators, and the higher-ups are simply not paying any attention.
Pao also advises less outsourced “mercenary” moderator staff and instead incorporates them into the full-time employee collective for better allegiance to the “cause” and of course, better control.
She even suggests that some Facebook moderators – despite insider testimonies showing some of them stringently and openly anti-free expression – might be making “pro-Trump” decisions because they are being “bullied,” unbeknownst to Facebook.
But why would Facebook disregard these points? The interviewer prods Pao on in a tiringly predictable direction.
“Most of the CEOs of social media companies are white, and most of them are men. I believe that you’re the only woman of color who has run a major platform. Do you think that that informed the way that you approached the job?”
To nobody’s surprise, Pao agreed. As for what Mark Zuckerberg, Jack Dorsey, and Susan Wojcicki need to do – “Just do the right thing. Most of them know what the right thing to do is. Just have that conviction and push your way through.”