Thousands of Reddit communities have gone dark today, to protest the site’s proposed introduction of charges for developers of third-party apps that serve Reddit content. Reddit announced the changes in April, which would require fees to be paid for apps to make calls to the website’s API.
Reddit does have an official app, but there is also a healthy third-party app scene, providing alternative interfaces, functionality, and moderator tools. Four of these, Apollo, Reddit is Fun, Sync and ReddPlanet have said that they will be forced to close if the charges are introduced.
Apollo developer Christian Selig explained that the level of the charges would mean costs of almost $2 million per month:
“The price they gave was $0.24 for 1,000 API calls. With my current usage [that] would cost almost $2m per month, or over $20m per year.”
Over 3,500 subreddits have pledged to join the protest, during which they will be switched to private access for 48 hours. Some communities plan to return to normal service once the time ends, but many have suggested that they may not come back while the charges remain.
Many major crypto-related subreddits have joined the protest, with r/CryptoCurrency, r/Bitcoin and r/Cardano all showing as private communities on the site. However, others seem to have shunned the blackout, with r/Ethereum, r/Tether and r/USDC all still accessible at the time of writing.
The current most upvoted post on r/Ethereum is from a moderator of r/EthTrader, explaining the reasons for the blackout and urging r/Ethereum to join the protest. So it seems that a decent proportion of the community may be in favour, even if the mods aren’t.
A spokesperson for Reddit said that “Our pricing is based on usage levels that we measure to be comparable to our own costs,” claiming that Apollo was notably less efficient than other third-party apps.
The social media platform spends what it described as “multi-millions of dollars on hosting fees” and “needs to be fairly paid.”
It will be interesting to Observe how this situation develops, as it currently looks like somewhat of an impasse. A moderator told the BBC: “…given recent communications between moderators and Reddit admins, I don't believe that they are intending to reverse these changes.”
This may lead to an extended blackout, but how long can Reddit maintain its current position in the face of such a scenario?