ShortList is supported by you, our amazing readers. When you click through the links on our site and make a purchase we may earn a commission. Learn more

Reddit blackout: site goes dark to protest platform changes

Many of Reddit's biggest communities have shut down in support of developers.

Reddit blackout: site goes dark to protest platform changes
Andrew Williams
12 June 2023

Many of the largest Reddit feeds have “gone dark” to protest platform changes that will make it impossible for some third-party Reddit apps to operate.

More than 7000 Reddits have switched to “private”, meaning their feeds are only visible to approved members, or switched off the ability to create new posts and comments.

The protest follows the shuttering of Apollo, one of the most popular Reddit apps, after a major change to how the Reddit platform operates. Apollo developer Christian Selig estimates that, thanks to these changes, it would cost him $20 million a year to run Apollo. The app was free to download and use, with an optional paid tier.

Reddit communities that are now effectively inaccessible include giants such as r/funny, which has more than 40 million users. Here are some of the other big hitters involved:

  • r/aww
  • r/books
  • r/DIY
  • r/explainlikeimfive
  • r/food
  • r/gadgets
  • r/gaming
  • r/memes
  • r/mildlyinteresting
  • r/music
  • r/nottheonion
  • r/science
  • r/space
  • r/sports
  • r/todayilearned
  • r/videos

The blackout is due to last 48 hours, but some moderators have suggested their Reddit communities could stay down longer. For example, one of the mods of r/Music posted that the subreddit would go dark “indefinitely” from today, June 12. This amounts to a revolt of the Reddit community against the people who run the platform.

Reddit CEO Steve Huffman hosted an AMA session following the announcement of the API changes, but there has been no suggestion he intends to backtrack on announced plans. “Reddit needs to be a self-sustaining business, and to do that, we can no longer subsidize commercial entities that require large-scale data use,” he wrote.

Huffman says the company is in talks with third-party Reddit app developers about the increase in charges, although a developer of one of these apps disputes these claims.

“I am the developer of a third party app (Now for Reddit) which has been happily using the API for 10 years. I don't want to close down and have been considering using the paid API. However, I have been trying to contact Reddit over the last 3 months and have been completely ignored,” user Miloco posted, on Reddit. After catching some attention with the post, Miloco says Reddit has now been in contact.

Much of Reddit itself now inaccessible, but a post on r/books — which has restricted posts rather than limiting access to the feed entirely — explains the thinking behind the blackout.

“After much discussion and careful consideration we moderators of r/books have decided to join in solidarity with Redditors and moderators, who feel recent changes to third party support will negatively or irrevocably impact their ability to effectively use Reddit," the post reads. ."We had hoped that after concerns were brought to the attention of Reddit administrators a constructive dialogue could take place. Nothing we have seen since the announcement has made us feel that the concerns were heard or that they will be addressed.”

Main image: Getty Images