April 21, 2024

Moderators of hundreds of Reddit forums, known as subreddits, shut down access to their groups on Monday in protest of the company’s plan to charge outside developers for access to the data they need to run apps on the site.

Many said the new pricing scheme could kill some of the most popular third-party apps that many users rely on to browse and post comments on the site. Others said the allegations created uncertainty about the tools moderators use to manage discussions. An estimated 57 million people visit the platform every day.

Reddit announced in April that it would begin charging some of its largest users for access to its application programming interface, or API, which allows external entities to download and process the social network’s vast collection of memes, gifs, videos, and conversation threads.

Reddit said it no longer wanted to gift such a valuable asset to companies like Google, OpenAI and Microsoft, which have been using Reddit’s data to develop artificial intelligence systems that many in Silicon Valley see as the next big thing.

“Reddit needs to become a self-sustaining business, and to do that we can no longer subsidize commercial entities that require data usage at scale,” Reddit CEO Steve Hoffman said in a “ask me anything“On-site discussion.

But the allegations have sparked a backlash among volunteer moderators of the site’s diverse community, who said they would shut down access to their groups for at least 48 hours starting Monday in what they called a coordinated protest.

host Some of the most popular on Reddit subreddits – including r/funnywith over 40 million members, and r/game, r/music and r/scienceeach with more than 30 million members – joined the protest by making their pages private and posting messages denouncing the new terms and pricing.

Many small group moderators were also blacked out as part of the demonstration.

For a brief period on Monday, the protests made it difficult for some users to access Reddit because “the transition of a large number of subreddits to private caused some expected stability issues,” a Reddit spokesperson said, adding that those issues have since been resolved.

Developers of several popular apps said they would have to shut them down because of the new pricing system.

Apollo, an iOS app widely acclaimed in the mobile developer community for its well-designed interface and rich features, is scheduled to shut down on June 30. Post on Reddit Developed by its developer Christian Selig. Under the new pricing scheme, Apollo would have to pay $20 million a year, he said.

“I hope it goes without saying that I don’t have that kind of money and don’t even know how to debit a credit card,” he wrote.

At least three other Reddit apps — rif is fun for Reddit, ReddPlanet and Sync — have also announced plans to shut down on June 30, citing what they call unreasonable costs, the tech news site said. edge reports.

moderator right/blindThe Center for Blind and Visually Impaired Users, which has more than 20,000 members, said the allegations could threaten third-party apps that translate Reddit text to speech and allow blind and visually impaired users to participate in discussions on the site.

Noah Carver, one of r/blind’s moderators, said in a statement on behalf of his team: “The proposed changes to the Reddit API will not only isolate blind users from the social network used by millions. come, thereby disconnecting us from the wider world; they will also go a long way toward destroying the blind communities — and disabled people in general — that thrive on Reddit despite the corporations’ perception of their indifference.”

Since its founding in 2005, Reddit has been known for championing free speech, code and data, which allow users to build tools and applications around the site, said Sarah Gilbert, a postdoctoral associate at Cornell University who studies content moderation and Data ethics.She is also the host of the channel r/AskHistorians subreddit, which join the protest.

Ms. Gilbert said the pricing plan could undermine the platform’s volunteer-led culture that has set it apart from other social media sites.

“It’s not just about people being upset that they can’t have their favorite app anymore,” she said in an interview. “It’s about the loss of community or the fear of it being lost.”

Reddit spokesman Tim Rathschmidt said the company has been reaching out to various Reddit communities to “clarify information about our data API terms, platform-wide policies, community support resources, and new moderators. Any confusion over the timing of the tools.”

He said Reddit spends millions of dollars in Internet hosting fees and “needs to pay fairly to continue supporting high-usage third-party apps.”

“Our pricing is based on usage levels that we measure to be comparable to our own costs,” he wrote in an email.

Some applications are more efficient, requiring significantly fewer API calls, and “Apollo is significantly less efficient than other third-party applications,” Mr. Rathschmidt added.

“The vast majority of API users don’t pay for access; not all use of third-party apps requires paid access,” he wrote, adding that access “is free for moderator tools and bots.”

Responding to accessibility concerns raised by groups such as r/blind, Mr. Rathschmidt said the company has offered an exemption from the new price to non-commercial apps that address accessibility concerns. Some of those developers have signed deals with Reddit, he said.

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