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What’s happening with Reddit? Website blackout continues for ‘indefinite’ amount of time

Reddit is continuing its blackout for an 'indefinite' amount of time over API fees
Reddit is continuing its blackout for an 'indefinite' amount of time over API fees Copyright AP Photo
Copyright AP Photo
By Sarah PalmerReuters & AP
Published on Updated
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A two-day Reddit protest is set to continue indefinitely, with the website’s volunteer moderators saying they will maintain the social media site’s blackout unless its owners back down over new user fees.

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A two-day Reddit protest is set to continue indefinitely, with the website’s volunteer moderators saying they will maintain the social media site’s blackout unless its owners back down over new user fees.

As of Wednesday, more than 5,000 popular subreddits remained in private mode.

The action has been in the works for weeks after Reddit announced in April that it would start charging third parties for its application programming interface (API).

An API is a way for more than one computer programme to communicate with each other, and third parties used Reddit’s free API to access data or build apps.

But now, Reddit has proposed to charge developers that require higher usage limits.

Some of the most popular apps, including Apollo and RIF, have said they will have to shut down because of the new charges.

Organisers of the blackout, which began on Monday, say Reddit's changes threaten to end key ways of historically customising the platform.

Subreddit “mods" often use tools outside of the official app to keep their forums free of spam and hateful content, for example, as well as improve accessibility.

One of the reasons for the new charge is because of the rise of generative AI. Reddit's conversation forums have a lot of data that can be used to train tools such as ChatGPT.

While some of this data can be collected in an unstructured fashion, Reddit's API makes it easier for companies to directly find and collate the data.

Reddit co-founder and CEO Steve Huffman said “We absolutely must ship what we said we would” in a leaked memo published by The Verge.

Huffman also reportedly claimed that the subreddits would likely end their protest after the initial two days.

Why are the moderators continuing with the Reddit blackout?

Many of the moderators on Reddit are unpaid volunteers, and they’re claiming that admins at the company have been removing moderators who are supporting the protest in order to force the subreddits back online.

One moderator of r/gaming also told The Independent that the stance was a response to Huffman claiming that the protest “will pass”.

Reddit has roughly 57 million daily users and 100,000 communities. There are also around 13 billion posts in existence on the site.

Despite these impressive stats and a reported $100 million (€92 million) in ad revenue in 2019, the company isn’t profitable.

This latest move, much like Elon Musk’s third-party restrictions across Twitter, is hoping to change that.

In the April announcement, Reddit said the API changes would "support a more sustainable, healthy ecosystem around Reddit data."

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What’s next?

As for what happens next, no one seems entirely sure at this stage. 

The Reddit stand-off has become a battle of wills between the moderators and the owners of the business.

Right now, it feels like only time will tell who is the first to back down.

Reddit's press office said they would not comment on the protest.

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