Thousands of Reddit communities remain dark indefinitely (2024)

Thousands of Reddit communities remain dark indefinitely (1)

What began as a 48-hour protest has now turned into millions of users staying off of Reddit for what's being called an "indefinite blackout".

Reddit recently announced changes to its application programming interface (API) program, including new charges for third parties who access the company's data. This will effectively shut down some popular third-party apps people use to browse Reddit when the changes go into effect on July 1, including ones that exclusively offer accessibility features for users with disabilities.

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In response, almost 9,000 Reddit communities, named subreddits, went private from June 12-14. Now, about 5,000 subreddits have decided to remain dark indefinitely, until Reddit acquiesces to some demands.

The move, orchestrated by Reddit moderators after communities voted in support, made the subreddits inaccessible to anyone, including subreddit members.

Reddit is a social media site that resembles a forum, where members follow communities focused on particular interests rather than individuals. These subreddits can have millions of members and each one of them will see the community's posts on their feed any time they log in to Reddit -- except during the blackout.

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The blackout is a result of outrage over Reddit's decision to charge millions of dollars for the use of its API and access to its data beginning on July 1. Because of these new charges, several of the most popular third-party Reddit apps like Apollo, Sync, and Pager will shut down due to the inability to afford the new costs.

Some of the subreddits included in the blackout are r/Aww, with 34 million members; r/Music, with 32 million members; r/Videos, with 27 million members; r/Futurology, with 19 million members; and many more.

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According to The Verge, Reddit CEO Steve Huffman said in an internal memo to employees that the company had "not seen any significant revenue impact so far" and to block out the noise and wait it out. "There's a lot of noise with this one. Among the noisiest we've seen. Please know that our teams are on it, and like all blowups on Reddit, this one will pass as well," the memo said.

Alternatively, Adweek reports that advertisers have had to reschedule campaigns that were set to launch this week to instead go live next week, in an effort to avoid becoming the subject of users' opinions about Reddit's decisions. It also mentions that advertisers are feeling the effects of redirected ad impressions and softer metrics.

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Christian Selig, the developer of the Apollo app, said in a Reddit post that the company would presumably charge Apollo $20 million per year for API access. "I hope it goes without saying that I don't have that kind of money or would even know how to charge it to a credit card," he added. Apollo is set to shut down on June 30.

Though the Reddit site launched in 2005, the first official Reddit mobile apps for iOS and Android weren't launched until 2016. Before the official apps launched, mobile users browsed Reddit through web browsers or third-party apps.

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Since then, the official Reddit apps have added advertising, while many of the most popular third-party apps have not, making many users prefer them over the years. Visually-impaired users also rely on third-party apps due to the official Reddit mobile app not being accessible to them, which is a significant contributing cause to the protest.

In an 'ask-me-anything' (AMA) session last week, Huffman said of Selig, "His behavior and communications with us [have] been all over the place -- saying one thing to us while saying something completely different externally; recording and leaking a private phone call -- to the point where I don't know how we could do business with him."

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The AMA soon turned sour, with Huffman answering fewer than 15 questions and instead having other administrators answer the rest.

The blackout, which includes the most popular subreddits on the site, started at 10:15 am ET on June 12.

Selig included the following in his post: "I asked Reddit if they were flexible on this pricing or not, and they stated that it's their understanding that no, this will be the pricing, and I'm free to post the details of the call if I wish."

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Thousands of Reddit communities remain dark indefinitely (2024)
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