April 19, 2024

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Reddit Faces Backlash From Thousands of Subreddits Over API Pricing

Reddit, the popular online platform for discussion and content sharing, is facing a massive protest from thousands of its subreddits over its new pricing policy for its application programming interface (API).

The API allows third-party apps, such as Apollo, to display Reddit content on their platforms. However, Reddit recently announced that it would charge developers for using its API beyond a certain limit, which many app developers said they could not afford.

As a result, more than 7,000 subreddits, including some of the most popular ones like r/funny, r/aww, r/gaming, r/music, and r/science, have gone dark or private, meaning they are no longer accessible to the public or even to their subscribers. Some subreddits have also restricted new posts or allowed only memes about the API changes.

The protest is planned to last for 48 hours, from June 12th to June 14th, but some subreddits have said they will stay private until Reddit changes its policy. The protest was organized by moderators and users in the subreddit r/Save3rdPartyApps, which has a pinned post explaining the reasons behind the action.

Submods push back

Credit: Clem Onojeghuo via Unsplash

“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 post reads.

The protest has also gained support from some of the app developers affected by the API pricing. Christian Selig, the developer of Apollo for Reddit, said it was “incredibly amazing” seeing Reddit’s community come together to push back against the proposed changes.

“I really hope Reddit listens,” he wrote in a post on the Apollo subreddit. “I think showing humanity through apologizing for and recognizing that this process was handled poorly, and concrete promises to give developers more time, would go a long way to making people feel heard and instilling community confidence.”

Reddit’s CEO Steve Huffman held an AMA (ask me anything) session on Friday to address the concerns of the community, but his responses were met with criticism and downvotes from many users. Huffman said that Reddit’s API pricing was not intended to harm third-party apps, but rather to cover the costs of running the service and to encourage developers to optimize their apps.

He also said that Reddit was willing to work with developers to find a solution that works for everyone, and that he hoped the protest would not last long.

It’s all about the money

However, many users were not satisfied with his answers, and accused him of being out of touch with the community and prioritizing profits over user experience. Some users also pointed out that Reddit’s own official app was not very user-friendly or feature-rich compared to third-party apps.

Reddit is one of the most visited websites in the world, with over 50 million daily active users and over 100,000 active communities.

However, Reddit has also faced challenges in balancing its growth and revenue with its community and culture. The platform has been criticized for hosting hate speech, misinformation, harassment, and other problematic content in some of its subreddits. It has also struggled to monetize its user base without alienating them with intrusive ads or censorship.

Adding to the pressures to raise revenue and cut costs is a long-term plan by Reddit’s owners for an IPO. Reddit is privately held and is majority owned by Advance Publications, the parent company of Conde Nast and a major shareholder in Charter Communications and Warner Brothers Discovery.

It remains to be seen how Reddit will resolve the conflict with its subreddits and app developers over its API pricing. The protest has already attracted media attention and public scrutiny, and could potentially damage Reddit’s reputation and user loyalty.

By J.R. Grissom

By J.R. Grissom

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