Reddit blackout: Subreddits will be made private on Monday.
Thousands of Reddit communities will be unavailable on Monday in protest of the site’s management.
Reddit is imposing controversial fees on makers of third-party apps used to navigate the social media platform.
However, this has sparked a backlash, with moderators on several of Reddit’s most popular subreddits keeping their communities private for 48 hours in protest.
As a result, about 3,500 subreddits will be unreachable.
A subreddit is the name given to a forum on the Reddit platform, which is effectively a community of people who meet to discuss a specific topic.
Instead than following specific users on other platforms, Reddit users – or Redditors – will often join a number of subreddits and see postings from these communities in their feed.
Unlike other social media platforms, Reddit mainly relies on community moderation.
In addition to a few professional administrators, the website relies on tens of thousands of unpaid moderators known as mods to keep it running.
These moderators may spend one or two hours every day ensuring that their subreddit is free of off-topic comments, forbidden content, or even criminal stuff.
On the other hand, Reddit does not charge hosting costs for anyone who want to create their own community based on a shared interest.
In a statement on the website on Friday, Reddit CEO Steve Huffman stated that the site “needs to be a self-sustaining business” and addressed the blackout.
“We respect it when you and your communities take action to highlight the things you need, including, at times, going private,” he said.
“We are all responsible for ensuring that Reddit is an open, accessible space where people can find community and belonging.”
He also indicated that sexual content will stay on the site, but Reddit would restrict access to it through third-party apps.
‘Power in numbers’
The blackout will affect 3,489 subreddits in total, including five of the top ten most popular communities on the site, r/gaming, r/aww, r/Music, r/todayilearned, and r/pics, which each have over 30 million members.
According to a moderator on one of these subreddits, the demonstration was about “strength in numbers.”
“If it was a single subreddit going private, Reddit may intervene,” they explained.
“However, if it’s half the website, you feel a lot more pressured.”
“This is a completely volunteer position; we do not receive any financial compensation, but we take it very seriously.”
They stated that they wanted Reddit administrators to understand that they rely on moderators to run the site and that the only way to send a message was to impair Reddit’s traffic.
“Our entire community is united in our opposition to this change,” they stated.
“It feels good to have the authority to say, ‘We will not continue to moderate our communities if you impose these changes.'”
“Would they destroy what they’ve built up in all these communities just to push through this highly unpopular change that both Reddit mods and users are overwhelmingly against?”
The internet’s first page
Reddit, which bills itself as “the front page of the internet,” has an official app, but it was released in 2016, many years after the website was established.
As a result, third-party programs like Apollo, Reddit is Fun, Sync, and ReddPlanet were created to allow consumers to access the platform on their mobile devices.
Reddit has imposed a series of fees on developers who desire to continue using its Application Programming Interface (API) – the code that allows third-party programs to find and display Reddit content.
All four of these apps have announced that they will cease operations as a result of Reddit’s new API fees.
These fees have been widely condemned as excessive, with Apollo developer Christian Selig estimating that continuing to operate the app will cost him $20 million (£15.9 million).
However, a Reddit representative told the BBC that Apollo was “notably less efficient” than other third-party programs.
They said that the social media platform spends “multi-millions of dollars on hosting fees” and “needs to be fairly paid” to continue supporting third-party apps.
“Our pricing is based on usage levels that we measure to be comparable to our own costs,” the company explained.
According to the representative, not all third-party apps would require paid access. Reddit previously stated that it would not charge for apps that make the platform more accessible.
The BBC spoke with a moderator who suggested the blackout may last until Reddit reversed the adjustments.
“The current plan for many communities is… they might keep the blackout going for longer, beyond the original forty-eight hours, or keep their subreddits restricted so that nobody can post,” they explained.
“Every community is different, and different moderators have different perspectives on what’s going on right now, so it does vary.”
“However, based on recent communications between moderators and Reddit admins, I don’t think they intend to reverse these changes.”
And some groups, such as r/Music, which has 32 million members, claim that their subreddit will be unreachable indefinitely unless Reddit changes its stance.