Reddit, a prominent social media platform that has allowed millions of users to curate their news feed and engage in countless online communities, is in the middle of a firestorm.
Following an announcement of an impending hike in costs associated with accessing its Application Programming Interface (API), Reddit users are preparing for a sweeping blackout on June 12.
Understanding Reddit’s Planned API Changes
On May 31, Reddit announced plans to start charging for engagement with its API, a previously free service allowing third-party developers to build their own applications with unique features.
This decision has stirred significant backlash among the Reddit community, as many consider the proposed charges to be exorbitant.
In some cases, developers predict annual costs could reach a staggering $20 million to keep their applications functional.
As a result of this dramatic price increase, several third-party applications such as Apollo and Boost, popular alternatives to the official Reddit app, may be forced out of existence.
Desktop browser extensions like the Reddit Enhancement Suite (RES) could also face extinction due to the new charges.
Although the timeline for the API price increase’s implementation remains unclear, there are indications that Reddit is eager to move forward with the change sooner rather than later.
Unpacking the June 12 Reddit Blackout
In response to Reddit’s proposed API changes, users across several popular subreddits are rallying for a blackout on June 12.
This widespread, digital protest aims to contest Reddit’s price hike, with participating communities planning to “go dark” for periods ranging from 24 to 48 hours.
Some even pledge to vanish “permanently unless the issue is adequately addressed.”
The planned blackout reflects the deep-seated frustrations of Reddit’s userbase, many of whom rely heavily on third-party applications for their interaction with the platform.
The potential effectiveness of this protest in swaying Reddit’s decision remains uncertain, but its scale and intensity suggest it could be a turning point for the platform.
Gaming Subreddits United Against Reddit’s API Changes
Several major gaming subreddits, including r/Minecraft, r/PS5, r/DnD, r/Nintendo, r/Terraria, and r/EscapeFromTarkov, have also pledged their participation in the upcoming blackout.
The API changes threaten to dismantle the third-party apps and tools these communities rely on, prompting their collective action.
Some users argue that Reddit’s new pricing scheme aims to eliminate third-party apps and push users towards the official Reddit app.
These changes are also being critiqued by subreddit moderators, who fear losing access to valuable moderation tools and features offered by third-party developers.
In an attempt to quell the rising discontent, Reddit confirmed on June 5 that moderation tools would retain free access to the site’s API, while the “vast majority of API users” would not be charged for access.
However, this concession does not seem to extend to larger apps, making the planned blackout seemingly unavoidable.
Looking Ahead: Reddit’s Tense Standoff
With the date for the Reddit blackout drawing near, it remains to be seen whether this mass protest will affect the company’s planned API changes.
This situation calls into question the sustainability of a digital ecosystem that relies heavily on third-party developers. It also serves as a stark reminder of the similar API pricing changes implemented by Twitter earlier this year, which led to some apps losing their functionality.
As Reddit and its users face off in this tense standoff, the world watches on to see how the tides will turn.