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12th Jun 2023

Reddit communities ‘going dark’ to protest website changes

Stephen Porzio

Reddit

Over 6,000 subreddits have reportedly gone on protest.

Some of Reddit’s biggest communities are “going dark” from Monday (12 June) in order to protest changes to the popular discussion website.

Earlier this year, Reddit revealed that it will begin charging developers for the first time to access its application programming interface (API for short) from 19 June.

The API enables third parties to gain access to the popular website’s information, allowing them to make alternative smartphone apps to the official Reddit one. Popular examples of these include Apollo, Infinity, Narwhal and Relay.

Reddit was around for 11 years before launching its own app in 2016. As such, many Redditors used third-party apps – which boast their own unique layouts and features – to access the website on their smartphones, growing to prefer them to the Reddit app.

While the website has not yet unveiled precise details regarding how much it will cost for third parties to access the Reddit API, Apollo developer Christian Selig has claimed that he would need to pay over $20 million annually to operate his app. Due to this, Selig said he will be shutting his app down.

“Apollo will close down on 30 June. Reddit’s recent decisions and actions have unfortunately made it impossible for Apollo to continue,” he wrote on Twitter.

“Thank you so, so much for all the support over the years.”

As a way of protesting the changes, thousands of subreddit moderators are turning their communities private, thus making them inaccessible. Some will stay like this for 48 hours while others will “go away permanently unless the issue is adequately addressed”.

The protestors said in a group statement: “Many moderators aren’t able to put in the work they do with the poor tools available through the official app.

“This isn’t something any of us do lightly: we do what we do because we love Reddit, and we truly believe this change will make it impossible to keep doing what we love.”

The Verge reports that over 6,000 subreddits, including many of the most-subscribed ones, are taking part in the protest.

For information regarding which communities are now inaccessible, you can check out a Twitch stream at this link which has been set up to track the exact number of subreddits that have turned private.

However, Reddit has defended the introduction of the API prices, saying in a statement that it “needs to be fairly paid to continue supporting high-usage third-party apps”.

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