Reddit Fires Aimee Knight As Controversial Hire Sees Hundreds of Subreddits Go Private

A Reddit employee whose hiring sparked a wave of communities to go private this week is no longer at the company, CEO Steve Huffman has confirmed.

Hundreds of communities went private this week in protest at the employment of a former U.K. politician called Aimee Knight, previously known under the surname Challenor, who was recently hired as an administrator by the popular messageboard platform.

"The employee in question is no longer employed by Reddit," Huffman said in a post on Wednesday explaining Reddit's perspective on the situation.

Many of the subreddits that went dark had over one million members, including r/apple, r/Music, r/HistoryMemes, r/pokemongo, r/PrequelMemes and r/Cringetopia.

Knight, 23, was suspended by the U.K Green Party in 2018 after it emerged her father, David Challenor, was appointed as Knight's election agent despite him previously being charged with multiple serious sexual offenses, including taking indecent photographs, false imprisonment, rape and sexual assault of a child in November 2016.

An investigation found that Knight appointed David Challenor as her election agent in both April 2017 and mid-2018. In August 2018, David Challenor was convicted and sentenced to 22 years in prison, and was formally expelled from the party.

In 2019, Knight was suspended by another political party, the Liberal Democrats, after her partner, Nathaniel Knight, allegedly shared child sex fantasies online. Knight has maintained the Twitter account used to share the posts had been hacked.

The controversies spilled over onto Reddit this week after a moderator of the popular community r/ukpolitics shared an article that mentioned Aimee Challenor by name, seemingly triggering the website's anti-doxxing protection for its employee.

The article was removed and the moderator banned—sparking a mass protest to break out in solidarity against suspected censorship, or over-moderation, of the page. Mods for the political channel argued that no private personal information was released.

Aimee Knight (Challenor)
Green Party co-leader Jonathan Bartley (R) and LGBTIQA+ spokesperson Aimee Challenor - now Aimee Knight - (L) set out the party's commitment to champion LGBTIQA+ rights during a campaign event ahead of the forthcoming general election, on April 28, 2017 in London, England. Carl Court/Getty Images

The moderator has since had their account restored, but not after the page voluntarily went private to investigate what had taken place with the ban.

The r/ukpolitics team said in a statement: "We took this step to protect both the users of the subreddit, and ourselves, from further action by the Reddit admin staff. It became apparent that Reddit has hired this individual as a Reddit admin, and were banning people from discussing her past to protect their employee from harassment."

According to her website, Knight married her husband on December 12, 2019. She has since left the U.K. for the United States, seemingly around February last year.

Some users suspected that increased protections were necessary for Knight because, as a transgender woman, she has faced abuse and harassment online.

Huffman admitted faults with the hiring process, continuing: "We built a relationship with her first as a mod and then through her contractor work on RPAN [Reddit Public Access Network]. We did not adequately vet her background before formally hiring her.

"We've put significant effort into improving how we handle doxxing and harassment, and this employee was the subject of both. In this case, we over-indexed on protection, which had serious consequences in terms of enforcement actions."

The CEO said extra protections for the employee were added on March 9, moderating content that mentioned the staffer's name or that shared personal information.

He confirmed the news article about the employee was shared on March 22, forcing the moderator's removal under the website's broader anti-doxxing rules.

Huffman said in his post: "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. We did not operate to our own standards here. We will do our best to do better for you."

Reddit logo
The logo of Reddit, a social news aggregation is pictured along with other apps, including Instagram and WhatsApp on a smartphone on January 29, 2021. A Reddit employee whose hiring sparked a wave of communities to go private this week is no longer at the company, CEO Steve Huffman has said. Yuriko Nakao/Getty Images