Reddit Blackout Alert: Why Is Reddit Down Today?

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It’s not everyday the “front page of the internet” is forced to close its doors. What’s up with the Reddit blackout?

Well, it seems the popular online forum is in the midst of an internal struggle stemming from a new Reddit policy that would “charge third-party developers to access its application programming interface (API).” Indeed, close to 8,000 subreddits have gone private in protest of the new policy, first announced in April, resulting in the entire website going offline for two hours this morning.

Reddit told NBC News:

“A significant number of subreddits shifting to private caused some expected stability issues, and we’ve been working on resolving the anticipated issue.”

While the site is back up now, more than 7,000 subreddits remain private this afternoon as the standoff with the platform continues.

Reasonably so, according to app makers, the new API terms would be costly. In a June 8 Reddit post, Christian Selig — creator of third-party app Apollo — announced he would have to shutdown the popular Reddit-app alternative as the new terms would cost “over $20 million per year.”

“The price they gave was $0.24 for 1,000 API calls. I quickly inputted this in my app, and saw that it was not far off Twitter’s outstandingly high API prices, at $12,000, and with my current usage would cost almost $2 million dollars per month, or over $20 million per year. That is not an exaggeration, that is just multiplying the 7 billion requests Apollo made last month by the price per request.”

Interestingly, Selig was also accused of threatening the company, a claim Selig quickly refuted by posting several audio clips of phone calls held with a Reddit employee.

When Will the Reddit Blackout End?

Today, #RedditBlackout has trended on Twitter all day, earning more than 4,000 tweets and 112,00 searches according to NBC News. While the website’s technical issues seem to have subsided, there remain plenty of questions over the final result of the subreddit protest. The protest includes the likes of r/Music, r/funny and r/aww, each of which boasts millions of followers.

While most subreddits have stated plans for a 48-hour blackout, more than 60 subreddits have stated plans to commit to the blackout until Reddit walks back its API pricing. This includes a pivot to Discord servers as a way for followers to stay off Reddit.

Reddit’s latest change comes on the coattails of Twitter, which made a similar change this past spring. Indeed, Elon Musk’s latest passion project moved to charge developers for access to its API in March, after announcing the plan in February.

Reddit’s API change has had notably more drastic effects, however. The official Reddit app is sorely lacking in a number of accessibility and quality-of-life features, many of which are only accessible via third-party apps. Moderators on the r/ModCoord subreddit stated the losses to accessibility stemming from the new API change would greatly hurt their ability to moderate their respective subreddits.

“In many cases these apps offer superior mod tools, customization, streamlined interfaces, and other quality of life improvements that the official app does not offer […] The potential loss of these services due to the pricing change would significantly impact our ability to moderate efficiently, thus negatively affecting the experience for users in our communities and for us as mods and users ourselves.”

So far, it remains unclear when or if Reddit will budge on its new API changes. In comments made Monday morning, Reddit CEO Steve Huffman defended the new API policy, arguing that it’s a necessary defense against the growing popularity of generative artificial intelligence (AI) companies targeting Reddit’s data.

“We’ll continue to be profit-driven until profits arrive,” Huffman stated.

On the date of publication, Shrey Dua did not hold (either directly or indirectly) any positions in the securities mentioned in this article. The opinions expressed in this article are those of the writer, subject to the InvestorPlace.com Publishing Guidelines.

With degrees in economics and journalism, Shrey Dua leverages his ample experience in media and reporting to contribute well-informed articles covering everything from financial regulation and the electric vehicle industry to the housing market and monetary policy. Shrey’s articles have featured in the likes of Morning Brew, Real Clear Markets, the Downline Podcast, and more.

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