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Reddit Blackout: Why Thousands Of Subreddits Are Going Dark

7000 communities with millions of subscribers opting for Reddit blackout, going against new API pricing changes that could kill off third-party apps

Reddit blackout

The Reddit community is witnessing voluntary blackouts, with thousands of subreddits switching to the private mode in line with the ongoing protests over the platform’s decision to raise the price of its API access. The action will affect the third-party apps too, forcing them to shut down.

The blackout was initiated by around 7,000 Reddit communities with millions of subscribers on 11 June, when thousands of forums went dark on Monday, making this one of the largest user-driven outages ever to hit the social media platform. Something they had never imagined is becoming true, a massive Reddit blackout is on the way.

How does the ‘Reddit blackout’ affect engagement?

The ongoing global outage on Reddit is leading to a lot of voluntary blackouts, which in turn restrict groups’ content from being visible publicly. There are various popular groups and communities dedicated to certain categories like music, history, sports, and video games, making Reddit the largest online community. So, what will happen when content is not visible in these communities?

Millions of users and subscribers will flock to different platforms like Twitter, Instagram and find the content they are looking for. With over 7K subreddits (out of 100K) whose status reads ‘gone dark’ have a combined subscriber count of 2.7 billion, which is quite a significant number to have a huge impact on Reddit engagement.

The announcement of the rise in API pricing sparked a backlash from the very beginning, Reddit community managers have joined the outage too. In line with the same, Reddit CEO Steve Huffman made an effort to calm the situation down by conducting an AMA which wasn’t successful and the issue took more fire.

The prevailing issue can have an impact on Reddit in the long term too, as the current outage outlines a major flaw in Reddit’s system, i.e., the app places major reliance on users or volunteer moderators to run the app.

Unlike other social platforms, which are reliant on algorithms and automated detection, a large chunk of Reddit’s moderation and engagement maximization efforts come via human engagement, with moderators playing an essential role in managing their groups, and ensuring that they stay on-topic and track.

That’s delivered major benefits for the app, particularly in terms of reducing spam and misinformation, but at the same time, it means that Reddit needs this army of volunteers to keep things rolling, which is a significant weakness in its current approach.

Today, things might cool down, and the platform may get back to normal operations but this major dependence on moderators could be another problem in Reddit’s to-do list.

Various Third-party Apps will face forced shut-down

The Reddit plan to charge millions of dollars from third-party apps if they want to continue accessing the platform was announced on Monday and was served by a Reddit blackout reflecting widespread global outrage.

The plan has already forced several of Reddit’s top app-makers to make announcements that they are shutting down as they can’t afford the new pricing costs which will begin starting July 2023. 

Christian Selig, a developer from Apollo claims that “Under Reddit’s new pricing structure, Apollo would need to pay around $2 million per month to keep the app running, effectively pricing him, and many others out of the market.”

Christian Selig’s tweet:

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