Hundreds of Reddit forums locked down, admin fired after allegations of supporting pedophilia

Former UK Green Party politician Aimee Challenor.
Former UK Green Party politician Aimee Challenor. Photo credit: Getty

Hundreds of communities on social media platform Reddit locked down on Thursday in protest of a controversial admin.

Reddit recently hired former UK Green Party politician Aimee Challenor who has been accused of supporting pedophilia.

In 2017, Challenor selected her father - who was convicted of torturing and raping a 10-year-old girl in the home they shared -  as her election agent, the Guardian reported.

Challenor later joined the Liberal Democrats but was suspended in 2019 over comments made by her partner on Twitter where he said he wanted to have sexual relations with children.

Her past resurfaced on Thursday when a Reddit moderator shared a news article in a subforum covering UK politics which named Challenor in passing.

The user was banned from the site and users believed Challenor was using her position to suppress the information.

"We are disappointed both in Reddit's decision to hire a supporter of pedophilia and actions to silence dissent over her hiring," one subreddit said.

"Aimee Challenor is [a] disgusting person who should not have any authority at all over a website that is frequented by millions of children," another wrote.

In a statement, Reddit said their employee had been "the target of harassment and doxxing" and they had activated the standard process to protect the employee, including initiating an automated moderation rule to prevent personal information from being shared.

"The moderation rule was too broad, and this week it incorrectly suspended a moderator who posted content that included personal information. After investigating the situation, we reinstated the moderator the same day. 

"We are continuing to review all the details of the situation to ensure that we protect users and employees from doxxing - including those who may have a public profile - without mistakenly taking action on non-violating content."

But users argued that the statement didn't address the issue of pedophilia, which Reddit has battled in the past by allowing controversial subreddits to exist, including one which allowed users to share 'jailbait' photos of children.

The Verge reported more than 200 subreddits set their status to private in protest, demanding Reddit immediately remove Challenor from the admin team.

"This is nonsense and you know it," one comment said. "You've completely ignored the real issue: the person you have hired is, at best, sympathetic to pedophilia.

"I don't condone doxxing virtually anyone, but what you're describing isn't doxxing. It's posting the name of a public figure."

A moderator wrote: "This site still has a major pedophilia problem and a person in the role of 'community management' has troubling connections to pedophilia".

 "I don't think the admin is a pedophile herself, but she has shown in multiple ways that she cannot be trusted to handle the issue properly."

On Thursday afternoon, Reddit confirmed the employee is no longer a part of the company.

"Debate and criticism have always been and always will be central to conversation on Reddit - including discussion about public figures and Reddit itself - as long as they are not used as vehicles for harassment. Mentioning a public figure's name should not get you banned.

"We care deeply for Reddit and appreciate that you do too. We understand the anger and confusion about these issues and their bigger implications. The employee is no longer with Reddit, and we'll be evolving a number of relevant internal policies."

Reddit admitted it did not adequately vet the employee's background before hiring her.