Major Reddit Communities Protest Threat To Third-party Apps

sintania.amalia00 . June 12, 2023

Techspace - Some of the largest communities on Reddit will be locking their doors in protest at the social news site's decision to try to monetize access to its data.

Nearly 3,500 subreddits have joined the protest, and it will go "private" on Monday, June 5 preventing anyone outside the community from seeing their posts.

A subreddit is the name given to a forum within the Reddit platform, effectively a community of people who come together to discuss specific interests. Reddit or Redditor users will typically join various subreddits, rather than following individual users on other platforms and seeing posts from these communities in their feeds.

Apart from a few paid administrators, the website uses tens of thousands of unpaid moderators known as mods to keep the website running. These mods may spend an hour or two per day ensuring that their subreddit is not filled with off-topic comments, banned content, or even content that is illegal.

But the flip side is that Reddit doesn't charge any hosting fees for people who want to create their own community based on the interests they have.

Forums like r/todaylearnned, r/funny, and r/gaming, with over 30 million subscribers each, have signed up to join the campaign, while others with over 1 million members, including r/iPhone and r/unexpected, have signed up to join the campaign. closed their doors in anticipation of a strike.

Protest over a series of upcoming changes to the site's "API", which will allow other companies to use Reddit data in their products and services

The changes would introduce a hefty fee for "premium access" effectively shutting down popular third-party Reddit apps like Apollo, which let users explore the site with a customizable interface.

Such an app would need to cost users around $5 (£4) each month just to pay a new fee to Reddit, according to the sole estimate of Apollo developer Christian Selig.

Steve Huffman, chief executive of Reddit, announced in a post to the website on Friday, June 2, saying it "needs to become a self-sustaining business" and address the blackout.

"We respect when you and your community take action to highlight the things you need, including, at times, going personal."

"We all have a responsibility to ensure Reddit provides an open, accessible place for people to find community and a sense of belonging," he said.

He also confirmed that the explicit content will still be on the site, but that Reddit will restrict how to access it from third-party apps.

A similar conflict occurred on Twitter in the 2010s. Both services have a core of diehard users who rely on third-party apps, ultimately weakening the ad-supported social network's business model.

But Reddit's conflict has been mainly fueled by another clash: between the social network and AI companies like OpenAI, which have been extracting large amounts of data from the service to train their systems.

“Reddit's corpus of data is invaluable,” Steve Huffman, Reddit's founder and chief executive, told the New York Times in April. "But we don't need to give all that value to some of the world's biggest companies for free."

In a group statement, the moderator of the thousands of subreddits that joined the protest said: “On June 12th, many subreddits will go dark to protest this policy. Some will return after 48 hours: others will disappear permanently unless the issue is adequately addressed, as many moderators simply can't do the job they do with the poor tools available via the official app. This isn't something either of us can do easily: we do what we do because we love Reddit, and we truly believe this change will make it impossible to continue doing what we love.

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