Thousands of communities have joined a strike against a Reddit decision
Reddit will charge for access to its API, thus killing several independent projects. Thousands of subreddits have joined a strike.
The Reddit community strike against a recent controversial decision by the platform doesn’t stop. Some subreddits have announced plans to auto-disarm, i.e. set the login settings to private, preventing new users from logging in, indefinitely.
Reddit has announced that starting in July, it will charge developers to access its API, which until now had always been free. The announcement follows a mirror decision announced by Twitter not too long before. Reddit CEO Steve Huffman explained that the policy change follows two sets of reasons. For some years, especially after the boom in new registrations created by Wall Street Bets, the company has been obsessively trying to generate profits, perhaps in view of a debut on the stock exchange. Making the API paid could generate significant revenues. Secondly, Huffman explained that numerous companies are using Reddit content to train the models that power their artificial intelligences. “Reddit-hosted conversations are invaluable,” he said. An invaluable value that will never be given away again. It’s time to cash out.
The new policies won’t only penalize big companies that use Reddit data to create their products. They will have a devastating impact especially on small developers who until now have relied on the Reddit API to offer services that are scarcely monetizable. Apollo, an alternative third-party client to Reddit’s official app, will be forced to shut down. “Reddit will ask us for about 20 million dollars a year,” its founder had said. “It’s not sustainable and I have no choice but to close.”
In controversy with this lack of sensitivity towards the many independent projects that had contributed to the fortune of the platform, numerous subreddits – as the communities that populate the site are called – have announced a strike. More than 100 communities have already blacked out their subreddit , making it inaccessible from the outside. In jargon this practice is called ‘Going dark’ . The list of subreddits that joined the strike is growing fast and the total number could soon reach four digits.
A recent AMA (Ask me anything) held by Steve Huffman met with disastrous response, with the Reddit CEO’s comments being inundated with insults and accusations of having betrayed the soul of the site. “If there were any positive comments in that thread, I honestly didn’t find them,” Wes Davis wrote in The Verge.
Apollo creator Christian Selig accused Huffman of “blatantly lying” during a recent conversation with some developers. Meanwhile, some of Reddit’s most popular communities have also joined the strike, including r/funny (“you are only interested in making money with an IPO”, wrote its administrator in response to Huffman) and r/video , which together make several tens of millions of subscribers.
The protest – the promoters write – will end when Reddit changes its new policies in order to guarantee the survival of independent projects like Apollo. The strike also calls for new accessibility features for the blind and a change in the rules on adult content. Until then, Reddit will remain an unusually silent wasteland.