By Maya Patel, Technology reporter


Subreddit Uprising: Reddit Communities Go Dark in Protest Against API Pricing

A widespread strike on Reddit has commenced, with numerous subreddits opting to go dark or restrict access starting from June 12th. This protest comes in response to new pricing policies imposed by the platform for third-party app developers seeking access to Reddit’s APIs. As part of the demonstration, major communities such as r/videos, r/reactiongifs, r/earthporn, and r/lifeprotips are planning to set themselves to private, rendering them inaccessible to the general public for a planned 48-hour period.

The protest aims to address concerns raised by developers of third-party Reddit apps, who argue that the new pricing structure threatens the future of their services. Apollo developer Christian Selig recently announced that his app would be shutting down on June 30th. Selig’s Reddit post refuted accusations made by Reddit that his app was inefficient and included a partial transcript of a call with a Reddit moderator, where the company’s CEO allegedly mentioned Selig attempting to blackmail them.

The list of participating subreddits includes several communities with over a million subscribers each, demonstrating the scale of the strike. Developers of third-party apps, like Apollo, have expressed alarm at the potential costs associated with accessing Reddit’s API. Selig estimated that, at their current rate of 7 billion monthly requests, they would need to pay $1.7 million per year or $20 million annually. Other developers shared similar concerns, with Reddit is Fun stating that the charges would be in the same ballpark as Apollo’s costs, which they could not afford. Narwhal’s developer claimed that their app would be rendered defunct within 30 days due to the new pricing.

While Reddit employees argue that the API charges are reasonable and should be affordable for efficient third-party apps, developers maintain that the costs are exorbitant. Concerns have also been raised about limitations on displaying ads (a vital revenue source) and restrictions on NSFW content availability through the API.

This protest strike is not the first of its kind on Reddit. The platform has faced similar collective actions from subreddit moderators in the past over issues such as hate speech policies and controversies surrounding personnel. Reddit spokesperson Tim Rathschmidt assures that the majority of API users will not be required to pay for access, emphasizing that API use within Reddit’s rate limits remains free as long as apps are not monetized. The company is actively engaged with various communities to address concerns regarding API terms, platform policies, and more.

It is worth noting that Twitter also implemented more restrictive pricing and eventually banned third-party clients earlier this year. Reddit’s recent API pricing changes coincide with its rumored plans to go public, potentially providing insight into the platform’s restructuring fees.

The strike serves as a critical moment for Reddit, highlighting the interdependence between the platform and third-party developers, as well as the essential role these developers play in moderating and managing subreddit communities. The outcome of this protest and subsequent negotiations may shape the future landscape of Reddit’s ecosystem.

For more information on the controversial changes and further insights, watch Christian Selig’s interview with Snazzy Labs’ Quinn Nelson below.

Click here to support the protesting subreddits and contribute to their cause. Join Lemmy for less Reddit shenanigans.

Please note that due to the slow rollout on Reddit’s side, some subreddits may intermittently switch between public and private during this period, as they adjust their visibility settings. Additionally, subreddits that have disabled posting will still appear as “Public” on the platform. Currently, 702 out of 5,279 subreddits are participating in the strike.

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