Reddit witnessed a substantial protest on Monday as thousands of its communities opted to go dark in objection to the company's revised API pricing policy. This move involved popular subreddits with millions of followers making their content accessible exclusively to members, thereby restricting non-members from viewing their posts.
Despite the magnitude of the blackout, Reddit's co-founder and CEO, Steve Huffman, reportedly demonstrated composure in the face of these protests and assured his employees that the situation would ultimately resolve itself over time. The disclosure regarding alterations in API pricing was made in April.
As reported by The Verge, an internal memo was circulated among Reddit employees on Monday afternoon, coinciding with the commencement of the protests. The publication obtained a copy of the memo, in which Huffman acknowledged the ongoing protests and encouraged employees to disregard the distractions, assuring them that the blackout of subreddits would eventually come to an end.
"There’s a lot of noise with this one. Among the noisiest we’ve seen. Please know that our teams are on it, and like all blowups on Reddit, this one will pass as well. We absolutely must ship what we said we would. The only long term solution is improving our product, and in the short term we have a few upcoming critical mod tool launches we need to nail,” read the memo.
The report further stated that over 8,000 Reddit communities participated in the protest by making themselves private. While certain communities intend to revert to their public status today, others have made the decision to remain offline for an unspecified duration.
Alongside advising employees to "block out the noise," the Reddit CEO cautioned them against wearing Reddit-branded items in public due to the potential risk of becoming a target for user frustrations during the ongoing protests.
In a recent statement, Huffman responded to reports of Reddit users' protests, emphasising the necessity for Reddit to operate as a self-sustaining business. He explained that in order to achieve this, Reddit can no longer provide subsidies to commercial entities that rely on extensive data usage.
Regarding the protests, it has been reported that the Reddit communities initiated their protest following a conversation between Christian Selig, the developer of the Apollo app, and Reddit regarding the company's new API pricing. Apollo is a widely-used Reddit app known for its sleek iOS design.
Selig highlighted that his app would be required to pay a substantial amount of $20 million per year to Reddit in order to continue operating. In a Reddit post, he mentioned having a conversation with Reddit about pricing and expressed concern for third-party apps, as Reddit's newly announced pricing closely resembled that of Twitter. Selig further noted that Reddit demonstrated inflexibility regarding this pricing arrangement.
With the impending arrival of the new pricing structure, a subsequent post from Apollo app confirmed its unfortunate shutdown due to the inability to sustain operations under the revised policy. This news left numerous Apollo users disheartened.
In a unified effort to express their dissent against the API prices, thousands of communities or subreddits had planned to go dark on June 12. Notable subreddits participating in the protest included r/apple, r/funny, r/PS5, and r/gaming, all of which boast millions of followers.