On Monday, June 12th, more than 3000 communities reported to the Reddit platform become “private”. and closed public access to content for 48 hours in protest at the site administration’s plans to charge third-party companies and developers for accessing data and using the API service.
A number of forums such as r/todayilearned, r/funny and r/gaming, each with over 30 million subscribers, have announced in advance their decision to participate in the protest, while other forums with over 1 million members including r/iPhone and r /unexpected had blocked access to their messages a few days before launch.
In a group statement, moderators from the communities who joined the protest said: “On June 22nd, many subreddits will go offline to protest this policy. Some return after 48 hours, others disappear forever if the problem is not properly solved as many moderators cannot do their job with the bad tools available through the official app.”
The outcry stems from upcoming changes to the site’s API that would require third parties to pay huge sums of money to display Reddit information in their apps and services. For popular third-party applications like Apollo, which allows users to view a website with a custom user interface, this can be a disaster. According to Apollo developer Christian Selig, such apps would have to charge each user about $5 per month just to pay the Reddit fees.
“I called Reddit to discuss pricing, — reported Developer of the Apollo application. — The bad news for third-party apps is that advertised prices are similar to Twitter’s and Apollo has to pay Reddit $20 million per year to continue operations as before.”
On the other hand, the Reddit leadership’s decision is understandable. The fact is, AI companies like OpenAI have exploited Reddit’s vast amounts of data to train their systems for virtually nothing, without paying the social network a penny. “The Reddit data set is really valuable, Steve Huffman, founder and CEO of Reddit, told the New York Times in April. — But we don’t have to give all that value away to some of the biggest companies in the world for nothing.”