‘Inappropriate’ Gabby Petito Awards Lead To Swift Apology From Reddit Moderators
Controversy erupted after a series of awards on a Gabby Petito forum were met with criticism, leading to a group of Reddit moderators to quit and issue an apology.
A Gabby Petito forum thread on Reddit, which is dedicated to fostering an open discussion about the YouTube star who went missing and was later found dead, has become the centre of a controversy due to the awards that moderators had issued to users.
According to Newsweek, a group of moderators of the r/GabbyPetito thread were forced to quit, and now the remaining moderators have addressed the controversy and issued an apology, calling the awards ‘tasteless’ and ‘inappropriate’.
22-year-old YouTuber Gabby Petito was reported missing on September 11, after her parents didn’t hear from her for 13 days. At the time of her disappearance she was travelling cross-country with her fiancé, Brian Laundrie. She was later found dead on September 19, in Wyoming’s Bridger-Teton National Park. Earlier this week, the coroner released autopsy results determining the cause of death was strangulation and the manner of death was homicide.
The r/GabbyPetito thread on Reddit was established to allow people to discuss the widely publicized case that has intensely captured the public’s attention. While it’s normal for conspiracies to be shared on the forum, the awards seem to have taken the conversation into a more controversial area.
The awards system is used by Reddit to to give credit to those who make significant contributions to a thread. The awards that were issued by the former moderators of the Petito thread included a variety of designs related to Petito and various things she was interested in, which seems to have been insensitive in nature.
Awards that were given out included designs of a set of mountains, a ‘road trippin’ van with a likeness to the one Petito was driving, a woman taking pictures, a ‘broken heart’, and a design with a likeness to an FBI agent. While this was later labelled ‘tasteless’ and ‘tone deaf’, criticism also came from the public who thought the moderators were benefiting or profiting from Petito’s death.
An apology has since been issued after a group of moderators quit due to the intense backlash they faced:
We apologize to the memory of Gabrielle ‘Gabby’ Petito as well as to the Petito & Schmidt families.
We extend our humble apologies to the r/gabbypetito community for failing to exercise appropriate judgment and for our failure to offer concise and transparent information when responding to questions, confusion, and rightful criticism.
We would never wish to make light of a situation like this. We realize that a beloved person was murdered and many people now have a hole in their lives. Although we did not intend to exacerbate grief or trauma, we did, and we are deeply sorry for not realizing that in any stage that came before posting it for you.
The statement also rejected any idea that the moderators were profiting off Petito’s death:
It was not, nor has it ever been the intention of the moderators to make light of the senseless and tragic death.
Under no circumstances have we had any intention or interest in using Gabby’s name, memory, or perceived likeness for financial gain. It is important to us that we are crystal clear when we say we have not made any money whatsoever from moderation of this sub Reddit, nor from the community awards.
Thread moderators on Reddit do not receive any profit from being a moderator on the platform.
According to the apology, ‘the moderator who posted the awards felt terrible and not only stepped down but deleted their entire account.’
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