Reddit blackout: What’s behind the coordinated protest?

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Thousands of subreddits will “go dark” or private for 48 hours starting Monday in a protest against Reddit’s new pricing policy.

According to international media reports, close to 3,500 Reddit communities, also known as subreddits, are participating in this strike as users are unhappy with charges that Reddit has introduced to its application programming interface (API).

The API allows users to share Reddit content with third-party apps. The protest was announced in a post by Reddit user u/Toptomcat on June 2.

“A recent Reddit policy change threatens to kill many beloved third-party mobile apps, making a great many quality-of-life features not seen in the official mobile app permanently inaccessible to users,” the user said.

The user added, “On June 12th, many subreddits will be going dark to protest this policy. Some will return after 48 hours: others will go away permanently unless the issue is adequately addressed, since 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.

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The biggest subreddit to go dark on Monday, with over 40 million followers, was r/funny. On Monday morning, a notice on the page read, “/r/Funny has shut down as part of the coordinated protest against Reddit’s exorbitant new API pricing.”

Other big subreddits that participated in the strike included r/gaming and r/music, which have over 30 million followers each. The list of participating subreddits included everything from specific fandom subreddits, like those for Taylor Swift, Harry Potter, Game of Thrones or Dungeons and Dragons, to support groups and subreddits for stock trading advice.

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On June 9, Reddit CEO Steve Huffman hosted an “ask me anything” (AMA) and doubled down on the company’s decision to introduce the charges.

“Reddit needs to be a self-sustaining business, and to do that, we can no longer subsidize commercial entities that require large-scale data use,” he said at the time.

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Huffman was met with backlash from angry users during his AMA and third-party app developers have said Reddit’s charges would make their applications unsustainable.

Christian Selig, the founder of the app Apollo, on June 8 posted on Twitter and Reddit that his app would be shutting down by the end of the month because of Reddit’s charges.

“Apollo will close down on June 30th,he said. “Reddit’s recent decisions and actions have unfortunately made it impossible for Apollo to continue. Thank you so, so much for all the support over the years.”

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