"Reddit entered a new age of censorship," a new Change.org petition reads

By Jacqueline Andriakos
Updated June 15, 2015 12:40 PM
Justin Sullivan/Getty

Reddit users are speaking out against the popular online forum’s CEO in the wake of new policies aimed at eliminating harassment from the site, including the removal of a fat-shaming subgroup.

In a movement dubbed #RedditRevolt, many users are criticizing CEO Ellen Pao, accusing her of “censorship” after the site removed several subreddits that “break our reddit rules based on their harassment of individuals,” the company announced Thursday.

“Our goal is to enable as many people as possible to have authentic conversations and share ideas and content on an open platform,” the post said. “We want as little involvement as possible in managing these interactions but will be involved when needed to protect privacy and free expression, and to prevent harassment.”

“It is not easy to balance these values, especially as the Internet evolves. We are learning and hopefully improving as we move forward,” the company continued. “We want to be open about our involvement: We will ban subreddits that allow their communities to use the subreddit as a platform to harass individuals when moderators don t take action. We’re banning behavior, not ideas.”

“Fatpeoplehate” is the only group removed that had more than 5,000 users, according to the Reddit statement. But according to Tech Times, the announcement was “misleading” because the page actually had over 150,000 subscribers.

While many users consider the changes to be an infringement on free speech – the site is known for its anything-goes mentality – others were outraged that other harassment groups were not immediately deleted in the sweep, including a racist subgroup called “Coontown” with 13,000 subscribers and a group called “skinnypeoplehate.” (These groups have since been removed.)

A Change.org petition asking for Pao to resign as CEO of Reddit Inc. has collected more than 10,000 signatures. Though the petition was set up three months ago, it received the majority of its support within the past few days, with new comments pointing out the recent site actions.