“Unprecedented Challenge: Reddit Faces One of Its Largest Protests in History”

**Thousands of Reddit Discussion Forums Protest New Policy**


Thousands of Reddit discussion forums have gone dark this week as part of a protest against a new policy that charges some third-party apps to access data on the site. This move has raised concerns about content moderation and accessibility. Reddit’s changes threaten to remove key ways for users to customize the platform and hinder the work of volunteer moderators who use third-party tools to combat spam and hateful content. The blackout has affected thousands of subreddits, including popular communities like r/music and r/videos. While Reddit is not changing course, the protesting subreddits have demanded that the company lower API charges for high-usage, third-party developers. The blackout is ongoing as some subreddits have stated they will stay private indefinitely until their demands are met.

**What is API? And How is Reddit Changing Access to Third-Party Apps?**

API, or application programming interface, allows computer programs to communicate with each other. Reddit has provided free API access in the past for third parties to request data and build apps that work with the platform. However, Reddit announced changes to its API access policies earlier this year. Starting from July 1, third-party apps requiring higher usage limits will be charged. Reddit argues that it needs to support high-usage third-party developers by charging fees to become a self-sustaining company that can endure into the future. Not all third-party apps will be charged, as the policy is based on usage levels, and some noncommercial, accessibility-focused apps will still have free access. Access to API will also remain free for moderator tools and bots.

**Why Are Subreddits Protesting This Change?**

The API changes implemented by Reddit have sparked outrage among many Redditors who are concerned about losing long-used third-party resources. Popular third-party apps like Apollo and Reddit Is Fun have already announced plans to shut down due to the costs associated with the API changes. Volunteer moderators, who heavily rely on these apps, will likely feel the negative impacts. These moderators use third-party apps and access to data archives to effectively do their work. API access helps them keep communities safe by quickly responding to spam, bigotry, and harassment. Third-party apps are also essential for screen readers as the official Reddit app is not accessible for visually impaired individuals.

**When Will the Reddit Blackout End?**

While some subreddits that participated in the blackout have returned to Reddit after 48 hours, others have stated that their protest is ongoing until Reddit meets their demands. These demands include lowering API charges for high usage, third-party developers, so that popular apps can continue to exist. Reddit’s CEO, Steve Huffman, has stated that the company is not changing its course and that the subreddits participating in the blackout will not stay offline indefinitely, even if it means finding new moderators. The company’s response to the blackout has fueled further outrage among protest organizers, particularly after the replacement of moderators in protesting subreddits. Protesters continue to urge Reddit to pause these changes and find a balance that benefits a wide range of Reddit users. The API changes by Reddit are reminiscent of Twitter’s decision earlier this year to end free API access, which also resulted in widespread outrage.

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