Reddit blackout

ICYMI, Reddit decided to start charging an insane amount for access to the API causing popular app developers to bail out and shutdown by June 30th as the incured cost would be too high. A move similar to the bird site when the API access was revoked ; albeit this time with short notice instead of none. As a “generous” gesture, Reddit said they would be granting exceptions for accessibility reason as long as the app was gratis. Given their accessibility story, which rate very low, be it on desktop or with their mobile app, it feels more like they want it done for free.

In response to this, the moderators, which shall I point out are just volunteer community members, decided to make the subreddits private in protest, making Reddit go mostly dark. Given the amount of searches that lands on Reddit posts, I expect a serious dip in the traffic.

The antagonism of Reddit CEO, Steve Huffman, isn’t stopping there. The Verge tells us:

Some moderators of Reddit communities participating in the protest against API changes today got messages from the company: work to reopen your subreddits or else.

At the same time the CEO say he supports the protest. Can’t be more gaslighting:

On Thursday, Reddit CEO Steve Huffman told The Verge that “we don’t have problems with protests.” According to NBC News, Huffman “plans to pursue changes” that would let regular users vote moderators out more easily.

In short he support the protest by removing the protestors. That’s a signal the protest has an effect.

While one could argue that it is his company, and the way he lead his business ; and it might be the result of analyzing the cost structure and their income in plan for a possible IPO this year, in a panic. But alienating the community that make Reddit what it is, and going against them, doesn’t really signal a bright future and might as well run it to the ground. The communities will survive elsewhere, and that would be despite Reddit.1

It’s also another proof that centralized communities are subject to the whim of capitalistic guardian of the platform.

  1. It should be noted that Reddit has been hosting communities that are hateful, and that there have been issues with the management of this problem. But it’s orthogonal to the current issue. ↩︎