Reddit’s former product chief says he made the world ‘a worse place’ in his pursuit of growth at all costs


Dan McComas

Former Reddit head of product Dan McComas told New York magazine that he believes his time at the internet forum “made the world a worse place.”
McComas said a relentless pursuit of growth has led to user safety and wellbeing being sacrificed.
He also criticised Twitter and Discord, and has “no hope” that these platforms can ever be free from abuse.

Former Reddit product head Dan McComas gave New York magazine a bracingly honest account of his time at the internet forum.

McComas said growth trumped everything in Reddit board meetings, even if it was harmful for Reddit’s community, which now sits at 330 monthly active users.

“The incentive structure is simply growth at all costs,” said McComas, who worked at Reddit from 2009 to 2015, nine of months which were spent as head of product.

“There was never, in any board meeting that I have ever attended, a conversation about the users, about things that were going on that were bad, about potential dangers, about decisions that might affect potential dangers.”

He added: “I fundamentally believe that my time at Reddit made the world a worse place. And that sucks, and it sucks to have to say that about myself.”

A memo from a Facebook executive expressing similar sentiments about growth drew fire this year after it was leaked to BuzzFeed. Vice President Andrew “Boz” Bosworth wrote that any growth on Facebook is “de facto good,” even if it meant people get hurt or killed.

McComas told the magazine it was Reddit’s dogged pursuit of growth which forced his departure in 2015. According to the former product chief, the attitude from executives and investors led to abusive cultures forming on the platform. As a consequence, he believes the site is beyond saving.

“I think that if you ask pretty much anybody about Reddit, they’re either not going to know what Reddit is, which is the large majority of people, or they’re going to be like, ‘Oh, it’s that place where there’s jailbait or something like that.’ I don’t think that they’re going to be able to turn these things around,” he said.

Business Insider has contacted Reddit for comment.

Nasty subreddits that posed problems

McComas said a few particularly nasty subreddits posed a consistent problem, and continue to do so. In particular, he identified the “FatPeopleHate” and a group of animal cruelty subreddits, “specifically with a sexual nature,” which management refused to deal with.

“The arguments were usually, ‘We don’t want to touch this because these are our most volatile users and they’ll just make things a nightmare,” he said, adding that decisions weren’t reached unless forced by pressure from the press.

“We would deal with the immediate impact, which was painful, would last a week or two, and then it would go away. For the most part, unfortunately, I see them still following this pattern.”

Similarly, he said the same toxicity that he saw proliferate on Reddit can be seen on Twitter and Discord, a chat app designed primarily for gamers.

“By focusing on growth …read more

Source:: Business Insider

      

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