Reddit, the popular social media platform known for its vast array of communities, has recently announced changes to its application programming interface (API) program, sparking a backlash from users. The company's decision to introduce new charges for third-party access to its tools and data has led to the shutdown of several popular third-party apps used to browse Reddit.
In response to Reddit's API changes, over 7,200 subreddits (Reddit communities) have gone private. Moderators of these communities, following a vote in support of the action, have made the subreddits inaccessible to anyone, including members. Typically, Reddit members join communities based on specific interests, and the subreddits serve as dedicated spaces for discussions and content sharing. However, due to the blackout, users will be unable to view posts from these communities in their feeds for the duration of the protest.
The outrage stems from Reddit's decision to impose significant fees for API access and data starting on July 1. This new cost structure has rendered it unaffordable for several popular third-party Reddit apps, including Apollo, Sync, and Pager, which have relied on accessing Reddit's data without charging their own users. Christian Selig, the developer behind the Apollo app, stated that Reddit would likely charge his app a staggering $20 million per year for API access, which he cannot afford. As a result, Apollo is slated to shut down on June 30.
While Reddit itself launched in 2005, the official Reddit mobile apps for iOS and Android were introduced in 2016. Prior to these official apps, users accessed Reddit through web browsers or third-party apps. Over time, many users continued to prefer certain third-party apps over the official ones, as they did not display advertising. However, the official Reddit apps have implemented advertising, leading to the popularity of third-party alternatives. Hence, the recent changes to the API program have triggered widespread outrage and a protest involving tens of millions of Reddit users.
During a recent "ask-me-anything" (AMA) session, Reddit CEO Steve Huffman addressed the concerns raised by developers, particularly Christian Selig. Huffman cited inconsistent behavior and communication from Selig, including public statements that contradicted private discussions and the recording and leaking of a private phone call. These issues have strained the relationship between Selig and Reddit, making it difficult for them to continue working together.
The AMA session turned contentious, with Huffman answering only a few questions before delegating responses to other administrators. As a result of the API changes and the dissatisfaction expressed by users and developers, the blackout of several popular subreddits began at 10:15 am ET and will last for 48 hours, further highlighting the magnitude of the protest.