Reddit co-founder Alexis Ohanian resigns from board, wants seat to be filled by a black candidate

Ohanian, who is married to Serena Williams, said it was 'long overdue to do the right thing'

(FILES) In this file photo taken on July 14, 2018 husband of US player Serena Williams, Alexis Ohanian, takes his seat on court to watch her play against Germany's Angelique Kerber in their women's final match on the twelfth day of the 2018 Wimbledon Championships at The All England Lawn Tennis Club in Wimbledon, southwest London. Reddit co-founder Alexis Ohanian -- who may be better known as the husband of tennis star Serena Williams -- called June5, 2020, for his seat on the board of the  social news company to be given to a black candidate. - RESTRICTED TO EDITORIAL USE
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Reddit co-founder Alexis Ohanian resigned from the social network firm's board on Friday, and sought to be replaced by a black candidate. "I am doing this for me, for my family and for my country," he said in a video, announcing his decision.

The entrepreneur, who is married to tennis star Serena Williams, said he made the decision for the sake of his daughter, Alexis Olympia Ohanian Jr, 2.

“I’m writing this as a father who needs to be able to answer his black daughter when she asks: 'What did you do?',” Ohanian said in a blog post. He pledged to use future gains on his Reddit stock to “serve the black community, chiefly to curb racial hate.”

He also said he would give $1 million to Colin Kaepernick’s Know Your Rights Camp. Former NFL player Kaepernick is known for kneeling to protest police brutality and racism in 2016, and later filed a grievance claiming the league had blacklisted him as a result.

Ohanian's decision to step down comes at a time when the United States is witnessing widespread protests against racism and police brutality after an unarmed African American, George Floyd, died at the hands of the police.

(FILES) In this file photo taken on April 25, 2018 Co-Founder of Reddit Alexis Ohanian and Serena Williams attend the HBO New York Premiere of 'Being Serena' at Time Warner Center in New York City.  Reddit co-founder Alexis Ohanian -- who may be better known as the husband of tennis star Serena Williams -- called June5, 2020, for his seat on the board of the  social news company to be given to a black candidate. / AFP / ANGELA WEISS
Co-founder of Reddit Alexis Ohanian with tennis professional wife, Serena Williams. AFP 

His death has reignited debates over diversity in America's corporate boardrooms and content moderation practices on social media.

Reddit, based in San Francisco, calls itself “the front page of the internet” and has millions of users. Like all social media sites, it has had issues over the years balancing freedom of speech against posts with racist, inflammatory and abusive intent.

Following Ohanian's post on Reddit, the company's chief executive, Steve Huffman, said the company would "honour" his request and is working to strengthen its content policy to combat racist speech on its platform.

Huffman wrote in a post on the site that "the unacceptable gap" between Reddit's content policy and values has reduced the company's effectiveness in combating hate and racism, and slowed down its response to problems.

"This current policy lists only what you cannot do, articulates none of the values behind the rules, and does not explicitly take a stance on hate or racism."

Huffman also said Reddit should have moved sooner to restrict access to r/The_Donald, a major forum for supporters of US President Donald Trump that Reddit 'quarantined' last year citing threats of violence against police and public officials.

Earlier in the week, former chief executive Ellen Pao criticised Reddit when Huffman wrote a letter to employees in response to the protests. She tweeted that Reddit should have shutdown the forum rather than amplifying "hate, racism, and violence".

Several Republican lawmakers wrote to Huffman last week criticising what they called his censorship of the r/The_Donald.

Internet entrepreneur Ohanian, who is married to American tennis player Serena Williams, also pledged $1 million to Colin Kaepernick's Know Your Rights Camp, a campaign for legal awareness among youth.

Additional reporting by Reuters and AFP