Reddit, which bills itself as the “homepage of the internet” with hundreds of millions of users, announced in June this year that it is charging for third-party platform API calls. In protest, the moderators of large communities went on strike and blocked access to their subreddits. It has now become known that many of the participants in the mass protest against the paid use of the Reddit API have come to terms with this innovation and have refused to continue the strike.
After Reddit’s leadership announced it would be charging fees for using its API, more than 8,000 subreddits, including the largest communities, restricted access to their content in protest. Such actions have reduced Reddit’s advertising revenue and threaten irreparable damage to the entire platform. Reddit CEO Steve Huffman, who uses the nickname Spez on the platform, expressed confidence in a message to employees at the company that the situation on the platform will stabilize. At the same time, he recommended that employees not wear items with the company logo in public places to prevent attacks.
The Reddit PR campaign, in which Huffman hosted an unsuccessful “Ask me everything” session, only compounded the negative effect. The fact is that when answering questions from users of the platform, the CEO seemed unprepared for the expected questions and criticism from Reddit users. Huffman also gave an interview to NBC in which he threatened to delete the accounts of community moderators who refused to return to work. Reddit later did the same with the r/malefashionadvice community and took control of it.
Despite the fact that the situation on Reddit began to return to normal within a few weeks, negative reactions from the company’s management continued. In order to distract users’ attention from the current situation, Reddit has again launched the r/place project, in which each user of the platform can color a pixel on a huge canvas. This campaign was used by the users of the platform to repeatedly write “Fuck Spez” on the screen together. They also drew a CEO scarecrow in the shape of the Reddit mascot lying under the guillotine. However, the company intervened and the image of the guillotine was removed from the website.
Faced with the endless threats of moderator bans, many communities have slowly come to terms with the changes on the platform. The top subreddits that refused to continue the attacks included r/aww, r/pics, and r/videos — some of the largest Reddit communities, which have a total of 91 million users. “More than a month has passed, and as it’s happening on the internet, the passion for the protest has waned and people’s attention has shifted to other things.”– wrote community moderator r/aww.
Of the 8,829 communities that participated in the strikes, only 1,843 subreddits currently continue to support the protest, according to Reddit. It is noted that many of these are small communities. The only major community protesting right now is r/fitness, which has over 10 million subscribers. While the Reddit team most likely caused irreparable damage to the platform and its relationship with users by imposing fees for using the API, the company’s management still seems to have defended their idea.