Reddit Website Goes Dark
Reddit, a popular social website that describes itself as ‘the front page of the internet’, has been enjoyed by many to discover niche communities for years. From the 12th of June though, for an indefinite period, many of these communities are going dark.
Users have decided to band together to protest the changes Reddit is making, specifically the decision to charge the developers of third party apps to continue using Reddit’s Application Programming Interface (API). This is a problem because several third party apps are very popular considering that Reddit had no mobile app until 2016, so these apps were used by mobile users. Because of the new API changes, third party apps may be shutting down entirely and possibly pulling associated users from the platform.
For this reason, moderators of communities known as sub-reddits, have decided to take a stand by making their sub-reddits private 12th June onwards, disallowing any activity. This includes the most popular sub-reddits like r/popular, r/gaming, r/aww, each of which have over 30 million users.
3489 sub-reddits have participated in this blackout. A moderator explains the purpose, saying:
“If it was a single sub-Reddit going private, Reddit may intervene. But if it’s half the website, then you feel a lot more pressured.”
There are also concerns that impaired users like the blind may be affected by the API changes as they use third party apps to make the website more accessible. Though Reddit assures users this will not happen, they are currently refusing to budge on the app charges, saying that it takes multi millions of dollars on hosting fees and needs compensation to keep supporting the third party apps.
Regardless, the originally 48 hour protest blackout is gaining traction and for many sub-reddits, is going to continue indefinitely. Whether or not this strength in numbers tactic works is yet to see.