Reddit’s Monetization Backlash: Subreddits Go Dark

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Reddit's Monetization Backlash: Subreddits Go Dark

Reddit has recently decided to monetize its valuable data. The move has sparked outrage within the Reddit community. Thus, thousands of subreddits have gone dark in protest against this controversial decision.

Subreddits Unite

Over 3,000 subreddits have joined forces to challenge Reddit’s recent policy changes. Some well-known communities in this movement include r/todayilearned, r/funny, and r/gaming. Big gaming communities like r/wow have gone private, and r/destinythegame has already announced their plan to join the movement.

Reddit's Monetization Backlash: Why Subreddits Go Dark?

And they are just the tip of the iceberg. With subscriber counts surpassing the millions mark, these influential forums stand firm against the platform’s attempts to profit from their data.

Monetization via API Changes

The protest centers around upcoming modifications to Reddit’s Application Programming Interface (API). It allows external companies to incorporate Reddit data into their own products and services. The problem is that these modifications will introduce high fees for “premium access.” This means third-party Reddit apps might face financial difficulties. For example, Apollo, an app that lets users browse the site with a customizable interface, will have to charge users around $5 monthly. And that’s only to cover the costs imposed by Reddit.

Beneath the surface of this conflict lies a deeper tension between Reddit and AI companies such as OpenAI. The AI systems have been benefiting a lot by learning from Reddit’s data. This method can be useful in building intelligent and valuable tools. However, Steve Huffman, Reddit’s founder and CEO, disagrees. He believes providing such significant value to large companies without anything in return is unfair.

“The Reddit corpus of data is really valuable. “But we don’t need to give all of that value to some of the largest companies in the world for free.”

— Steve Huffman, Reddit’s founder and CEO

Moderators Take a Stand

The moderators of participating subreddits have issued a collective statement. They expressed their deep concern regarding the new policy. According to them, the official Reddit app doesn’t have enough features to aid them in fulfilling their duties effectively. So, to make their concerns heard, they plan a protest starting June 12

On said day, certain subreddits are set to temporarily go offline for at least 48 hours. After that, if the problems persist, they may extend the blackout. Meanwhile, others consider shutting down permanently unless the issues are properly resolved. 

The consequences of this protest could extend beyond the world of third-party apps. Thus, prompting a broader conversation about data ownership and fairness in the digital landscape. Only time will tell how Reddit will sail through the storm.

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