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The Reddit Blackout: What on earth is going on with this community-driven website and why are its users revolting?

Reddit is a well-known social and entertainment website with many registered users submitting their content either through links, images, or videos. However, some issues with the tech platform have been reported, including the charges for access to its data, which largely fueled outrage among protest organizers. To understand what’s happening to Reddit, let’s take a look at what had happened so far:

Announcement of a new API policy

First introduced in April, the API changes were announced by Reddit’s CEO Steve Huffman to be made effective on July 1. One policy modification was to charge third-party app developers that need a high usage limit of $.024 for every 1,000 API calls. Huffman clarified that API will remain free to developers who are building bots to assist people with the use of the platform and to researchers who want to use Reddit exclusively for educational and non-commercial purposes. However, big companies that “don’t return any of the value” to users must pay the fees.

As a result of the “excessive” charges, various third-party apps for the website such as Apollo, Reddit is Fun (RIF), and ReddPlanet Apps such as Bacon Reader and BoostForReddit were forced to shut down their operations. The current API policy will end up costing third-party apps millions of dollars per year which is way more than these apps can afford.

Apollo developer Christian Selig said that Reddit was going to charge his company roughly $20 million a year, so he decided to end the service on June 30.

The API pricing plan sparked widespread protests resulting in the site’s blackout

In response to the current API scheme, thousands of Reddit communities have gone dark already. On June 12, Subreddits, the moderators of hundreds of the platform’s forums like r/bitcoin and r/Youtube, closed off access to their groups as the policy could kill these third-party apps that many Redditors rely on to navigate the site effectively.

About 9,000 subreddits went dark last Monday and more than 4,000 remained private on Friday. According to some ‘mods’, they will stay private until Reddit reviews its pricing system and meets their demands. As of this writing, mods including r/anime are still in a private mode while r/Videos and r/Music are restricted.

Reddit CEO confirmed that they will not back off

Despite the ongoing backlash, Huffman recently declared that the company will not compromise on third-party app charges. In an interview with a tech website, he confirmed his decision not to negotiate with the new API rule:

“Those democratic values run deep at Reddit. Every once in a while in cities, there’s a protest. And I think that’s what we’re seeing exactly right now. We, even in disagreement, we appreciate that users can care enough to protest on Reddit, can protest on Reddit, and then our platform is really resilient enough to survive these things. I’ll turn it over to you to jump into the details. But big picture, that’s how we look at this moment. In this case? That’s true. We’ve had blackouts in previous times where there’s a little more room for movement. But the core of this one is the API pricing change. That’s our business decision. And we’re not undoing that business decision. And we were clear about that going into this, which is was one of the reasons why I think our users probably are annoyed at this blackout, because there wasn’t anything to gain.”

With this in mind, Reddit is eyeing to increase revenue and profitability for investors in the upcoming years.


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