Reddit is the “front page of the internet”, a social media site where people share everything from mainstream pop culture to niche information.
The users (Redditors), form communities around a common topic called subreddits. Around 3,500 of the top subreddits will be radio-silent for at least a day on Monday in protest against Reddit’s choice to charge the developers of third-party apps that are used to browse the site.
Subreddits are the biggest attraction to Redditors both new and old as individual Redditors rarely get followed, rather the subreddit gathers audiences to share their common interests. Subreddits going dark are equivalent to major celebrities and political figures going silent on their Instagram or Twitter accounts after making a public statement, driving down audience traffic to the site and financially affecting the site.
Third-party apps for the Reddit social media site are loved by a majority of Redditors as the official app is considered to be subpar. The majority of the migration from the official app happened due to the Reddit live streams that autoplay. Apps like Apollo, Boost, ReddPlanet, and Sync are loved by the community and often are the only app they have on their mobile devices to access Reddit.
5 of the 10 most popular communities on the site – r/gaming, r/aww, r/Music, r/todayilearned and r/pics – which each have memberships of more than 30 million people, will be participating in the blackout. This protest is a show of “strength in numbers”. If over half the site traffic is suddenly gone, Reddit will be forced to take notice and acknowledge the demand to leave third-party apps alone.
Reddit has introduced a series of charges to the developers who wish to continue using its Application Programming Interface (API) – the code which allows third-party apps to find and show the content on Reddit. Apollo, the most popular Reddit browser on mobile has said it is shutting down due to this policy change.
These charges have been heavily criticised as extortionate – with Apollo developer Christian Selig claiming it would end up costing him $20m (£15.9m) to continue operating the app. But a Reddit spokesperson said the social media platform spends “multi-millions of dollars on hosting fees” and “needs to be fairly paid” to continue supporting third-party apps. The spokesperson also said that not all third-party apps would require paid access. Previously, Reddit announced it would not charge apps which make the platform more accessible.