Reddit—the site Gizmodo cheekily calls the Internet's "Fort Knox of cat GIFs"—has been in turmoil since the company on Thursday fired Victoria Taylor, the talent director who ran the most high-profile "Ask Me Anything" interviews, per the New York Times. Now a Change.org petition asking for CEO Ellen Pao to "step down" has racked up nearly 160,000 signatures, claiming Pao has sent Reddit into a "new age of censorship" since she was named interim CEO in November. "A vast majority of the Reddit community believes that Pao, 'a manipulative individual who will sue her way to the top,' has overstepped her boundaries and fears that she will run Reddit into the ground," the petition reads. It was started more than three weeks ago, CNET notes, but gained momentum after Taylor's departure led to angry moderators shutting down almost 300 subreddits, including the AMA subreddit, reports the Times.
Pao was unpopular in the Reddit community even before Taylor's dismissal: Last month she banned some subreddits for harassing behavior, which led to people harassing Pao, per the Washington Post. But moderators say the Taylor firing especially "blindsided" them, NPR notes, as Taylor played an "essential role" in the sections she oversaw. "I want to apologize to our community," Pao acknowledged to Time on Friday. "We handled the transition in a way that caused some disruption, and we should have done a better job." She adds they should have kept moderators (mostly unpaid volunteers) in the loop and that they can look forward to improved tools. Many subreddits (including AMA) are back online, but mods aren't buying the company line. "[Reddit does] not have a plan that we can put our trust in," a moderators' post reads. "As a result, we will no longer be working with the admins to put together AMAs."