Reddit communities are 'going dark' to protest changes that would hurt third-party apps

Numerous popular subreddits such as Earthporn, LifeProTips, ReactionGIFs, and Videos have declared that they will be going private on June 12th to protest the proposed changes that could negatively impact third-party apps. The protestors are trying to draw attention to an API pricing increase that they believe will keep third-party clients from using Reddit, as the price hike would cost app creator Christian Selig $20 million per year. The developers of other third-party apps, such as Narwhal and Reddit is Fun, have also raised concerns regarding the increased prices. Some subreddits will resume public access after 48 hours of protest, but others may isolate themselves permanently until Reddit addresses their concerns. In addition to going private, the protestors are asking users to message Reddit administrators, leave negative app reviews, and boycott the site. They are also requesting that participants act in a law-abiding and restrained manner, as aggressive behavior will not help their cause.

Moderators of subreddits are worried that the price increase will impact their ability to customize and incorporate unique features into third-party Reddit apps, including moderator tools that help monitor subreddits. Developers also fear that the new API structure would prevent the display of not-safe-for-work content and limit ads, which are key to generating revenue. This is not the first time Reddit communities have gone private in protest; in the past, the IAmA subreddit went private in objection to the sudden firing of a communications director, and dozens of subreddits made a similar move to draw attention to COVID-19 misinformation allowed to spread on the platform. However, Reddit’s responses to these protests have been mixed.

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Reddit’s decision to raise API prices comes shortly after Twitter banned third-party apps and limited free API access. Both moves require users to utilize official apps, where companies can control more of the user experience and generate more ad revenue and subscriptions. The fear is that these changes could stifle creativity and prevent outsiders from improving upon the platform’s core formula. We have asked Reddit for comment on the situation.

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