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Reddit communities goes on a ‘dark’ protest

Thousands of communities on Reddit are coming together in protest against the platform’s decision to monetize access to its data. Initially, around 3,000 subreddits committed to the protest by going “private” and making their posts inaccessible to outsiders.

However, the number of participating subreddits has now reportedly reached 6,200. Major communities with millions of subscribers, including r/today I learned, r/funny, and r/gaming, have joined the campaign, while others with over a million members have already closed their doors to outsiders.

The protest is in response to upcoming changes to Reddit’s API, which will introduce significant charges for “premium access.” This move will affect popular third-party Reddit applications like Apollo, leading to their shutdown.

Moderators of the participating subreddits released a group statement expressing their concerns, stating that the change will hinder their ability to continue providing the services they love. Christian Selig, the creator of Apollo, predicts that the new fees imposed by Reddit would require charging each user around $5 per month, leading to his decision to shut down the app.

Reddit CEO Steve Huffman acknowledged the closure of third-party apps in an AMA discussion, emphasizing the platform’s need to become self-sustaining. He explained that Reddit can no longer subsidize commercial entities requiring large-scale data use. Huffman also addressed the blackout and stated that Reddit respects the actions taken by communities to address their needs. He emphasized the responsibility of ensuring an open and accessible place for users to find community and belonging.

The protest aims to demonstrate “strength in numbers” and put pressure on Reddit to reconsider its changes. Moderators believe that the proposed modifications undermine their role in running the site, and they question whether Reddit would sacrifice the hard work of building communities to push through an unpopular change. Some moderators anticipate the blackout continuing until Reddit revises its policies, while others are skeptical about the platform’s willingness to reverse the changes.

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