Reddit Blackout - What does it mean, and Why it matters?

Ink

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Following on from Discussion Thread - Reddit may close down all third-party apps — Apollo app developer

  • Reddit, a popular news aggregation and discussion site with over 50 million daily active users, is "going dark," with most of its subreddit communities choosing to enter private mode.
  • Users are doing this to protest upcoming Reddit API price increases that will make it impossible for third-party app and bot developers to afford and maintain their services.
  • Most users consider third-party Reddit apps must-haves, as the official app is clunky, slow, and laden with ads. Moderators also say bots are critically important for detecting and removing large volumes of inappropriate content.
  • The "Reddit Blackout" is expected to last until June 14, though many subreddits plan to stay private indefinitely until Reddit's administration makes concessions.
The protest involves subreddits shutting down from June 12, 2023 for 48 hours. Some have committed to staying blacked out longer.
You're probably wondering why this is happening, so let us explain: the Reddit Blackout is a protest against the site's plan to raise its API (Application Programming Interface) pricing that was announced on May 31. The new costs are so high that they'll force popular third-party Reddit apps like Apollo, BaconReader, Narwhal, Sync, and others to shut down at the end of June, with developers saying they'd have to pay well over $1 million per month just to keep the lights on — a price they simply can't afford.

These apps are widely considered to be must-haves if you browse Reddit often, as they're designed to be clean, fast, and snappy, and often offer lots of nifty customization options. The official Reddit mobile app, by contrast, has long been criticized for its large size, slow speed, and the high number of ads it presents to users.

Why it’s happening?


Open letter


Current list of subreddits participating


Credits: Infographic by Twitter User @FullMetaDuchess
1686586671537.png
 

Ink

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Some Reddit users have noticed that they can't sign-in to their accounts anymore on mobile, as the option to do so has been removed for them. Reddit has made it difficult in the past for users to access the site on mobile in browsers. The company's main intention is to get users to use the official Reddit application instead.

The experiment goes hand in hand with a major change regarding third-party applications on Reddit.
 

monkeylove

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It's possible that companies want more control over the manner by which their content is accessed, which means they don't want others to modify the appearance, block ads, etc., and especially the latter. But because some of the things they offer are not optimized for various devices, then they're willing to allow them to do so but have to pay for such. In which case, developers will have to pass on the cost to users.

Also, I get this feeling that as more move to other platforms then the latter will eventually do the same.
 

vtqhtr413

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On the first day of a sitewide protest at Reddit’s planned API changes, the website experienced a major outage.
Reddit went through some issues for many on Monday, with the outage happening the same day as thousands of subreddits going dark to protest the site’s new API pricing terms. According to Reddit, the blackout was responsible for the problems. “A significant number of subreddits shifting to private caused some expected stability issues, and we’ve been working on resolving the anticipated issue,” spokesperson Tim Rathschmidt tells The Verge. The company said the outage was fully resolved at 1:28PM ET.

The issues started Monday morning, with Reddit’s status page reporting a “major outage” affecting Reddit’s desktop and mobile sites and its native mobile apps. “We’re aware of problems loading content and are working to resolve the issues as quickly as possible,” the company wrote on the status page in a message at 10:58AM ET. At 11:47AM ET, the company said that “we’re observing improvements across the site and expect issue to recover for most users. We will continue to closely monitor the situation.”
 

vtqhtr413

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Many third-party Reddit apps will be shutting down due to the platform’s prohibitively expensive API changes, but I found one app that might survive — and only by dropping a free version of the app and switching fully to a monthly subscription.

In a post on Sunday, the developer of the Relay for Reddit app for Android outlined how they might be able to keep the app running in spite of the increased API fees. “There’s no possibility to continue the free version of Relay; a monthly subscription price of $3 (or less) might be achievable,” the developer, “Dave,” wrote in the post.

Dave said that there’s “no financially viable way for me to continue to offer a free version of Relay,” which may not come as a surprise given the apparent $20 million per year cost to maintain Apollo for Reddit under the new policies. He’s reduced the number of API calls per user per day, and at the new level of calls, there’s “potential” to offer a subscription to the app at a $2 or $3 per month.
 

mlnevese

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oscar1

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It's good to hear that the outage has been resolved, but it's important for Reddit to address the underlying issues that caused it in the first place. Otherwise, they could face more outages in the future.
 

Ink

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It's good to hear that the outage has been resolved, but it's important for Reddit to address the underlying issues that caused it in the first place. Otherwise, they could face more outages in the future.
Reddit homepage experience is now vastly different. Gone is the good content that made users return, left is the weirder content that won’t have a big appeal to the millions. Less Reddit users will return, as with guest users clicking on results from Google, Bing etc. as they will not being able to view private subreddits.


Who owns Reddit?
For years, advertisers have often shunned Reddit in part because of content that some find objectionable, such as pornography or extreme political views. But the company began a new push for ad money around 2018 and has since cracked down on certain controversial communities, including by shutting down r/The_Donald, a hub for fans of former President Donald Trump where conspiracy theories and violent threats were also posted.

Financial progress has been uneven. Fidelity Investments, which owns shares in Reddit, has slashed the estimated value of its stake by 41% since August 2021, TechCrunch reported this month.

Adding to the pressures to raise revenue and cut costs is a long-term plan by Reddit’s owners for an IPO. Reddit is privately held and is majority owned by Advance Publications, the parent company of Conde Nast and a major shareholder in Charter Communications and Warner Bros. Discovery, according to CNBC.

Reddit is still led by one of its co-founders, Huffman, but some users said the latest revenue push was a betrayal of the site’s culture, which is based on volunteer moderators, a democratic voting system for posts and a fondness for the open web over walled-garden ecosystems.
 

MuzzMelbourne

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They don’t care. ChatGPT has been scraping their data. They want that to stop so they can monetize AI use of their user’s data themselves. Their users don’t make them money. They have an IPO coming up.
Bang on blackice...

Its about enticing future investors before the IPO. Reddit management are playing 'the long game' here.
 

vtqhtr413

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Reddit is about to shut off public API access, which means it’s about to get harder to use—and harder to get your data out. Here’s how to grab it now.

On Tuesday, more than 24-hours into the protest, The Verge published a company-wide internal memo from Reddit CEO Steve Huffman in which Huffman downplayed the impact of the users' protests. "There’s a lot of noise with this one," wrote Huffman. "Among the noisiest we’ve seen. Please know that our teams are on it, and like all blowups on Reddit, this one will pass as well."

"We absolutely must ship what we said we would," he continued, referring to the root cause of the protest – Reddit's plans to start charging exorbitant fees to developers for API access. Huffman also added that Reddit hasn't seen "any significant revenue impact so far" due to the protest.

It's clear that Reddit is trying to put these protests behind them as quickly as possible and roll out its new paid API next month, as the company looks to raise revenue as it eyes going public later this year.
 

TairikuOkami

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I have registered on Lemmy.world - General Lemmy site and https://kbin.social Some subs have already moved there, like Privacy and PrivacyGuides.
Lemmy is interconnected with other networks, while a bit quirky for now, they promised to upgrade it. After all they got 100k new users within a week.

Froggypwns
Windows Insider MVP / Moderator
We are setup to be notified when someone edits/deletes a comment that is more than 6 months old, I've seen more deletions in the past few days than all the last few years combined. A lot of good content has been lost, but understandably so.
proto-x-lol
You know this is a huge shitstorm from reddit themselves when Apple, Microsoft and Discord employees are actually posting their disdain towards reddit's new API policy.
 

vtqhtr413

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As some subreddits continue blackouts to protest Reddit's plans to charge high prices for its API, Reddit has informed the moderators of those subreddits that it has plans to replace resistant moderation teams to keep spaces "open and accessible to users."

In a comment shared by r/Apple moderator @aaronp613, Reddit cited its Moderator Code of Conduct and said that it has a duty to keep communities "relied upon by thousands or even millions of users" operational. Mods who do not agree to reopen subreddits that have gone private will be removed.

If a moderator team unanimously decides to stop moderating, we will invite new, active moderators to keep these spaces open and accessible to users. If there is no consensus, but at least one mod wants to keep the community going, we will respect their decisions and remove those who no longer want to moderate from the mod team.

Reddit is fighting for its soul. Many users are in revolt over API pricing changes that will shut down some of the most popular third-party Reddit apps, and they’re furious at CEO Steve Huffman after last week’s AMA that made it clear the platform wouldn’t budge. Huffman has argued the changes are a business decision to force AI companies training on Reddit’s data to pony up, but they’re also wiping out some beloved Reddit apps, and thousands of subreddits have gone dark for days in protest.

On Thursday, Reddit offered me an interview with Huffman (who goes by u/spez on Reddit). I’ve already published one story from my conversation about how Reddit was apparently never designed to support third-party apps. But here is a lightly edited transcript of the entire interview — which, at times, was contentious.
 
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vtqhtr413

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Reddit "appears to be laying the groundwork for ejecting forum moderators committed to continuing the protests," CNN reported Friday afternoon, "a move that could force open some communities that currently remain closed to the public. "In response, some moderators have vowed to put pressure on Reddit's advertisers and investors." As of Friday morning, nearly 5,000 subreddits were still set to private and inaccessible to the public, reflecting a modest decrease from earlier in the week but still including groups such as r/funny, which claims more than 40 million subscribers, and r/aww and r/music, each with more than 30 million members.

Reddit has portrayed the blacked-out communities as a small slice of its wider platform. Some 100,000 forums remain open, the company said in a blog post, including 80% of its 5,000 most actively engaged subreddits... Reddit CEO and co-founder Steve Huffman told NBC News the company will soon allow forum users to overrule moderators by voting them out of their positions, a change that may enable communities that do not wish to remain private to reopen.

In an interview Thursday with NBC News, Reddit CEO Steve Huffman praised Musk's aggressive cost-cutting and layoffs at Twitter, and said he had chatted "a handful of times" with Musk on the subject of running an internet platform. Huffman said he saw Musk's handling of Twitter, which he purchased last year, as an example for Reddit to follow.
 

vtqhtr413

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"Reddit's week appears to have gone from bad to worse, as AlphV (aka BlackCat) has claimed that operators broke into Reddit's servers on February 5, 2023, and took 80 GB of zipped data. . Furthermore, Reddit has been contacted by BlackCat, once on April 13 and again on June 16, with no response and no attempt to find out what was taken.

The post, captured below, also goes on to state that publishing the breach publicly now is a good time given the recent news, saying that originally they would have waited for the IPO to come along. Furthermore, they say that they wanted $4.5 million in exchange for the deletion of the data and their silence.

"In our last email to them, we stated that we wanted $4.5 million in exchange for the deletion of the data and our silence. As we also stated, if we had to make this public, then we now demand that they also withdraw their API pricing changes along with our money or we will leak it. We expect to leak the data."

Reddit has yet to comment on the allegations and the validity of them. However, it would be advisable with these comments to change any passwords associated with accounts on the platform. It isn't known exactly what the content of the zipped file is at this time, and whether it is just posts or more sensitive data such as user information or passwords."

 

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