Moderators of hundreds of Reddit forums, known as subreddits, blocked access to their groups on Monday to protest the company’s plan to charge outside developers for access to data needed to run apps on the site.
Many said the new pricing plan could kill some of the most popular third-party apps that many users rely on to browse and comment on the site. Others said the fees sowed uncertainty about the tools moderators used to manage discussions. 57 million people visit this site every day.
Reddit has announced that it will begin charging some large users for access to its application programming interface, or API, which allows outside companies to download and process the social network’s wide selection of memes, gifs, videos and conversations. texts.
Reddit said it no longer wants to give away such a valuable asset to companies like Google, OpenAI and Microsoft, which have been using Reddit’s data to build artificial intelligence systems that many in Silicon Valley see as the next big thing.
“Reddit needs to be a self-sustaining business, and to do that, we can no longer subsidize commercial enterprises that require large-scale data usage,” Reddit’s chief executive Steve Huffman said Friday.Ask me anything” discussion on the site.
But the allegations have sparked a backlash among volunteer moderators of the site’s diverse communities, who said they would suspend access to their groups for at least 48 hours starting Monday.
Assessors Some of Reddit’s most popular subreddits — incl R/funWith over 40 million members, and R/Gaming, R/Music And r/scienceEach — with more than 30 million members — joined the fight by setting their pages private and posting messages denouncing the new regulations and pricing.
Several smaller groups of referees also went dark as part of the demonstration.
For a brief period on Monday, the outage made it difficult for some users to access Reddit because “a significant number of subreddits becoming private caused some expected stability issues,” a Reddit spokesperson said, adding that the issues have since been resolved.
Developers of many popular apps have said they have to shut down due to the new pricing system.
Apollo, an iOS app widely praised in the mobile developer community for its design interface and great features, plans to shut down on June 30. Post on Reddit Its developer, Christian Selig. He said Apollo would have to pay $20 million a year under the new pricing plan.
“Hopefully it goes without saying that I don’t have that kind of money or even know how to charge it to a credit card,” he wrote.
At least three other Reddit apps — rif is Fun for Reddit, ReddPlanet and Sync — also announced plans to shut down on June 30, citing what they called unreasonable costs, the tech news site said. on the edge reported.
Assessors r/blindReddit, a hub for blind and visually impaired users with more than 20,000 members, said the charges could threaten third-party apps that translate text to speech and allow blind and visually impaired users to participate in discussions on the site.
Noah Carver, one of the moderators of r/blind, said in a statement on behalf of his group: “The proposed changes to Reddit’s API will not only isolate blind users from the social network used by millions of people, but will cut us off from the wider community. the world; They will largely destroy communities for the blind — and communities for the disabled in general — that have thrived on Reddit despite the company’s negligence.”
Since its founding in 2005, Reddit has been known for freedom of speech, code freedom and data freedom, which has allowed users to build tools and applications around the site, said Sarah Gilbert, a postdoctoral associate at Cornell University who studies content evaluation. and data protocols. He is also an arbitrator r/AskHistorians subreddit, this participated in the demonstration.
Mrs. Gilbert said the pricing plan would undermine the site’s volunteer-driven culture, which sets it apart from other social media platforms.
“People are not happy that they can no longer have their favorite app,” he said in an interview. “It’s about the loss of community or the fear of loss of community.”
Reddit spokesperson Tim Rathschmidt said, “The company has been reaching out to various Reddit communities to clarify any confusion about our data API terms, platform-wide policies, community support resources, and timing for new moderator tools.”
He said Reddit spends millions of dollars on web hosting fees and “needs reasonable payments to continue to support high-use third-party applications.”
“Our pricing is based on usage levels comparable to our own costs,” he wrote in an email.
Mr. Ratschmidt said that some applications are more efficient and require significantly fewer API calls and that “Apollo is less efficient than other third-party applications.”
“Most API users don’t have to pay for access; all third-party apps don’t require paid access for use,” he wrote, adding, “Access to moderator tools and bots is free.”
Responding to accessibility concerns raised by groups such as r/blind, Mr. Rathschmidt said the company has exempted from the new prices non-commercial applications that address accessibility issues. Many of those developers have signed deals with Reddit, he said.