Mass demonstrations against the company’s contentious API Changes have begun inside the Reddit community. Numerous subreddits have “gone dark,” rendering their communities private and their material unavailable to users who are not subscribers.
Thousands of other communities have joined the effort, along with some of the most well-known subreddits on the website, including r/Music, r/funny, r/aww, and r/todayilearned, each of which has millions of followers. Following CEO Steve Huffman’s AMA with users in which he justified the new policies—which would cause well-known third-party programs like RIF and Apollo to permanently shut down—the campaign has exploded in the last few days.
There were slightly over 3,000 participating subreddits as of last week. But by Monday morning, more than 6,200 communities had joined the protest, according to a Twitch stream monitoring it. Participating subreddits have posted succinct messages informing users that they are opposing the company’s proposed API changes as a result of the blackout. Although the majority have agreed to a 48-hour blackout, at least 60 subreddits have stated that they will continue to protest “indefinitely” unless the corporation reverses its modifications. Many are also advising people to avoid visiting Reddit altogether. To entice users to avoid Reddit, some have also established Discord servers.
Christian Selig, the creator of the Reddit client software Apollo, revealed that Reddit’s new price will cost him as much as $20 million a year to maintain his app, which sparked a backlash against the company’s new API changes. By asserting that Selig had “threatened” the company, the company further infuriated Apollo fans. The developer quickly countered this accusation with an audio tape of phone contact with a Reddit employee. The criticism was then intensified by Huffman in his AMA from last week.
“As the subreddit blackout begins, I wanted to say thank you from the bottom of my heart to the Reddit community and everyone standing up,” Selig wrote in a post on Twitter. “Let’s hope Reddit listens.”
The Reddit API changes explained.
But Reddit users aren’t just furious at the way the business handled Selig and Apollo; they’re also displeased with the removal of moderation and accessibility capabilities that were previously only available through third-party apps. The native Reddit interface is so inaccessible, according to administrators of r/blind, that one sighted user had to make the subreddit private.
“If Reddit was a restaurant third-party apps are franchises. We can get a burger from Reddit directly or from a franchise. The official Reddit location is at the top of a cliff. Disabled people can’t get there. Reddit is charging franchise fees so high nobody else can afford to offer burgers. We, with thousands of other subreddits, have gone dark for 48 hours. We will be back on June 14. Our Discord server remains open. Thank you for understanding; the app is so bad, vision is required to go dark.”
The moderators of Reddit, who are frequently careful to note that they are unpaid volunteers, expressed a similar sentiment. Moderators stated in an open letter that “in many cases, these apps offer superior mod tools, customization, streamlined interfaces, and other quality of life improvements that the official app does not offer.” “The potential loss of these services as a result of the pricing change would significantly hinder our capacity to moderate effectively, negatively affecting the experience for users in our communities as well as for us as moderators and users ourselves.”
The protest does not appear to have made much of an impact on Reddit’s management at this time. A company representative cited Huffman’s comments from his most recent AMA. “We respect when you and your communities take action to highlight the things you need, including, at times, going private,” the author said. “We are all responsible for making sure Reddit offers a place where people can freely gather and feel a sense of community.”
The new API changes in policy have been supported by Huffman and other executives, who point to the growth of generative AI businesses using its data as evidence. The CEO declared, “We’ll be profit-driven until profits show up. According to the Reddit spokesman, the firm has no plans to amend its policies.