Thousands of reddit forums There are It’s getting dark Monday saw one of the largest user-driven protests ever on the social media platform.
Voluntary blackouts that prevent groups’ content from being viewed publicly affect Reddit’s largest online communities, including popular groups dedicated to music, history, sports and video games. including protests Over two dozen subreddits With at least 10 million subscribers and thousands of smaller networks.
Monday’s protests reflect widespread outrage over Reddit’s plan to charge some people millions of dollars in fees Third-party applications to continue accessing the platform. The project has already attracted many of Reddit’s top app-makers announce They are Termination Because they can’t afford the new expenses that will start soon next month.
The conflict between Reddit’s corporate management and its users and developers marks a turning point for the platform. is reported It looks set to go public later this year. For years, Reddit users could browse posts, write comments, and share images and video on Reddit from third-party apps.
Now, however, Reddit is seeking larger payments from Reddit users to maintain the same level of access through its application programming interface (API). Christian Selig, the developer of the popular Apollo app, said last week that Reddit wanted to charge him $20 million A year to run his app. He then said he had no choice but to close the app.
Reddit sparked further tension with some in its developer community, who threatened the company by appearing to misrepresent details of its private conversation with Selig. However, Selig recorded his phone call with the company, which was Reddit co-founder and CEO Steve Huffman. Later on Agreed A Q&A with users.
Selig’s use was just one accident of the changes to come. Reddit’s critics say the site’s steep fees will kill all third-party competition against Reddit’s proprietary app, which many users have derided as slow, buggy and inferior. They also fear the moves will destroy the volunteer community that relies on third-party tools to do the important work of moderating Reddit forums. Social websites.
Defenders of Reddit, including some users, have said it’s Reddit’s right to set its own prices for API access, and that it’s a business that has the right to control how users access data on the site. Some users said they didn’t even know it was possible to access Reddit from third-party apps.
“Reddit needs to be a self-sustaining business, and to do that, it can no longer subsidize commercial enterprises that require large amounts of data usage,” Huffman wrote. Q&A with users Friday.
The battle echoes how Twitter, under its new owner Elon Musk, recently announced its own paywall for data to create new revenue streams and shore up the company’s struggling finances. Twitter’s move prompted an outcry from third-party app makers, Misinformation researchers And Public Service Account Holders He said the move would harm transparency and accessibility. Twitter responded to the criticism Adds a new layer to its payment plan, but action erupted immediately after it was too little, too late.
Now Reddit is facing a similar upheaval, which is especially useful in light of its heavy reliance on community members for basic maintenance of the site.
The stakes of the fight aren’t limited to Reddit. This takes place against the backdrop of a broader debate about who creates value and who reaps the rewards in social networks. It reflects years of growing public skepticism at big tech platforms, which have become economically dominant through the vast collection and exploitation of other people’s personal information.
For Reddit and its future stakeholders, the company’s value derives from the infrastructure the platform provides for conversation. Operating that infrastructure, protecting what’s stored there, and charging for access to that proprietary data creates value that Reddit believes it can hold.
However, for Reddit’s developers and moderators, the site’s value derives not only from the site’s company performance, but also from the user-led evaluation of the site’s countless forums, as well as the various tools and features others have developed to build Reddit. Also usable – for example, For the blind and visually impaired. Those solutions may not have been built by Reddit, but the company benefited from them because they helped the site grow and reach a wider audience.
Unlike Instagram or YouTube, Reddit owes its rise to the volunteer work of many of its users, who shouldered the costs of developing features that the company did not deserve to invest in. In that sense, Reddit closely resembles Wikipedia. A crowd-sourced digital encyclopedia, its volunteer editors are seen as an important resource.
Now, many users feel betrayed.
“If they start charging for API calls, [moderators] Reddit should start charging for website uptime,” said one user wrote. “This site only works on the back of free labor from mods.”
Some have vowed to stop using Reddit, and others have suggested scrubbing their entire account so the company can’t monetize their historical activity.
“For the vast majority of Apollo users, its existence alone is the reason we still use the platform,” said another user. wrote. “I’ve been here 15+ years, but have no intention of sticking around once the Apollo goes dark.”