Understanding the Reddit Blackout: Thousands of Subreddits Protest Third-Party App Charges

by Andrew Wright
Reddit blackout

This week, a significant number of Reddit discussion forums have gone offline as a form of protest against a new policy that imposes charges on certain third-party apps for accessing data on the site. The changes to Reddit’s API have raised concerns about content moderation and accessibility, prompting widespread backlash and debate.

The new fees are part of Reddit’s recent modifications to its application programming interface (API). The platform’s homepage has been flooded with posts from multiple subreddits expressing their dissatisfaction, with many claiming that Reddit is jeopardizing both third-party applications and its own future.

Reasons for the Blackout:
Organizers of the blackout, which commenced on Monday, argue that Reddit’s changes undermine key ways of customizing the platform that have been integral to its success. These modifications threaten the ability of volunteer moderators to maintain spam-free and inclusive communities. Many subreddit moderators rely on external tools to fulfill their duties effectively, and the new policy raises concerns about the loss of accessibility and the potential for increased harmful content.

Extent of the Blackout:
Approximately 9,000 subreddits joined the blackout this week, and over 4,000 remained offline as of Friday. Among the affected communities are massively popular subreddits such as r/music and r/videos, boasting millions of subscribers. While some subreddits have resumed their public status after 48 hours, others have pledged to remain private indefinitely until Reddit addresses their demands.

Reddit’s Stance:
Despite the widespread outcry, Reddit, a subsidiary of Advance Publications based in New York, has stood firm on its position. CEO Steve Huffman has emphasized that supporting high-usage third-party developers’ access to data is financially burdensome for the company. Additionally, Reddit clarified that the new fees will only apply to eligible apps with substantial usage limits, while the majority of API users will continue to have free access.

Understanding the API and Reddit’s Changes:
In essence, an API enables computer programs to communicate with one another. Reddit previously granted free API access to third parties, allowing them to request data and develop applications that integrate with the platform. However, Reddit announced earlier this year that it would be revising its API access policies. Effective July 1, the platform will introduce charges for third-party apps that require higher usage limits.

Subreddit Protests and Concerns:
The alterations to Reddit’s API have sparked outrage among Redditors who fear the loss of well-established third-party resources. Notable third-party apps, such as Apollo and Reddit Is Fun, have already announced plans to cease operations due to the increased costs associated with the API changes. Concerns have been raised about the impact on volunteer moderators who heavily rely on these apps. Moderation tools are vital for maintaining safe communities and addressing issues like spam, bigotry, and harassment promptly. Furthermore, third-party apps are crucial for individuals with visual impairments as the official Reddit app lacks accessibility features.

Duration of the Blackout and Demands:
While some subreddits participating in the blackout have returned after 48 hours, others insist that their protest is ongoing. Numerous subreddits have chosen to remain private indefinitely until Reddit meets their demands. These demands primarily revolve around reducing API charges for high-usage third-party developers to ensure the survival of popular apps. However, Reddit’s CEO has reaffirmed the company’s position, stating that the subreddits currently partaking in the blackout will not remain offline indefinitely, even if it necessitates finding new moderators.

Outrage and Comparisons with Twitter:
The response from Reddit to the blackout has further fueled the outrage among protest organizers, especially in light of the company’s decision to replace moderators of the protesting subreddits. It is worth noting that earlier this year, Twitter also faced backlash when it discontinued free API access, eliciting similar reactions from users.

The Reddit blackout serves as a prominent demonstration of user discontent with the platform’s new policy to charge third-party apps for accessing data. With thousands of subreddits joining the protest, concerns about content moderation and accessibility have taken center stage. The standoff between Reddit and the protesting subreddits continues, leaving the future outcome uncertain.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) about Reddit blackout

What is the Reddit blackout?

The Reddit blackout refers to a protest where thousands of subreddits have gone offline to express their discontent with the new policy that charges some third-party apps for accessing data on the site.

Why are subreddits protesting this change?

Subreddits are protesting the change because they believe it threatens the customization options of the platform and impacts the ability of volunteer moderators to keep their communities free of spam and hateful content. There are concerns about content moderation and accessibility.

How long will the Reddit blackout last?

While some subreddits returned to normal after 48 hours, others have stated that they will stay private indefinitely until their demands are met. The duration of the blackout is uncertain.

What are the demands of the protesting subreddits?

The protesting subreddits primarily demand a reduction in API charges for high-usage third-party developers to ensure the survival of popular apps. They want Reddit to reconsider its position on the new fees.

How is Reddit responding to the blackout?

Reddit’s CEO has maintained that the company will not change its course and has emphasized the financial burden of supporting high-usage third-party developers. Reddit is standing firm on its decision to implement the new fees.

Will the API changes affect all third-party apps?

No, the API changes will only impact eligible apps with high usage limits. Some noncommercial and accessibility-focused apps will continue to have free access. Reddit has clarified that API access will remain free for moderator tools and bots.

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NewsJunkie77 June 17, 2023 - 2:13 am

interesting to see how dis API charge issue is unfoldin’. it raises questions abt content moderation, accessibility, n volunteer mods. keepin’ an eye on it!

TechGeek42 June 17, 2023 - 4:19 pm

API changez r always controversial, man! but u gotta see it from reddit’s side 2. dey need 2 make $$$ 2 stay alive. let’s c how dis protest plays out.

SocialMediaAddict June 17, 2023 - 5:15 pm

twitter did dis 2! dis is gettin’ common. companies r chargin’ 4 API access now. it’s gonna affect developers n users. we need a solution, yo.

CreativeCatLady June 17, 2023 - 5:49 pm

as a subreddit mod, i depend on those 3rd-party apps 2 keep my community safe. dis blackout is imp 2 show how important dey r. reddit shud reconsider.

RedditFan88 June 17, 2023 - 6:29 pm

omg dis blackout is cray! all dose subreddits rly mad abt da charges. i get it tho, dey dont wanna pay. hope reddit listens to dem.


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