Reddit Protests: Thousands of Subreddits Go on News Blackout
On Monday June 12, more than 8,000 Reddit channels (known as Subreddits) were closed to the general public in protest against the new pricing policy of the popular social network. These channels were expected to reopen on Wednesday, but it seems that the blackout will last much longer.
The Prolonged News Blackout
The reason behind this extended blackout is a letter sent by Reddit CEO, Steve Huffman, to his employees. In the letter, Huffman stood firm on his decision and expressed his belief that user anger will eventually subside, as it has in the past. He acknowledged the current uproar as unprecedented but emphasized the importance of staying focused, adapting to challenges, and moving forward.
One of the employees leaked the CEO statement to The Verge, and the community was not pleased with Huffman’s comments. According to real-time tracking data from Reddark, there were still 6,700 closed channels on Wednesday, and that number has reduced to 5,432 at the time of writing.
What Led to the Reddit Protests?
The issue originated on May 31, when Reddit announced a change in its API policy, significantly increasing the price for third-party developers to access Reddit data. The goal was to prevent large companies like Google from extracting bulk data using ChatGPT-like language models, which would no longer be subsidized by Reddit. Huffman stated, “Reddit needs a sustainable business model, and to achieve that, we can no longer allow other companies to subsidize our data on a large scale.”
However, the price hike made it financially unviable for many app developers to continue using Reddit APIs. Prominent Reddit reader Apollo, for instance, faced a bill of over $20 million per year under the new rates. Its developer, Christian Selig, has already announced the app’s closure on June 30.
Apollo is not the only third-party app affected by this change. Redditisfun (RIF), Reddplanet, and Sync have also announced the closure of their applications, as reported by The Verge.
While Reddit has offered exceptions for some non-commercial applications to access the APIs without a fee, developers are demanding a reconsideration of the pricing. However, the CEO’s recent letter indicated that Reddit does not plan to make any changes to the previously announced API updates.
Meanwhile, in the ModCoord subreddit, which keeps an official record of the protests, more than 300 channels have joined the call for an indefinite information blackout until Reddit agrees to negotiate. Notably, this includes popular channels like r/aww, r/music, r/videos, and r/futurology, which collectively have over 110 million users.