Why are Reddit users rebelling?

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A protest has swiftly grown over fees charged to app developers

If you are having trouble finding your favorite Reddit groups, chances are they are part of a growing protest over new company policies. Thousands of groups have simply gone “dark.”

Reddit’s changes have to do with money. Anyone can browse the various Reddit groups and even write posts and share pictures from third-party apps. 

The user rebellion started after the company announced it will charge hefty fees to app developers for access through its application programming interface (API), causing at least one developer to throw in the towel.

Christian Selig, the developer of the Apollo app, said Reddit asked for $20 million a year to maintain his access. Rather than pay, he’s pulling the plug.

In response, thousands of forums, on a wide range of topics, are going dark by restricting access to non-members. According to CNN, the protest includes some of the platform’s largest groups and more than two dozen subreddits with an estimated 10 million subscribers.

Technical issues

The protests apparently also caused some technical issues. Tech site The Verge reports the platform was been hit by outages this week that the company directly links to the protest.

“A significant number of subreddits shifting to private caused some expected stability issues, and we’ve been working on resolving the anticipated issue,” spokesperson Tim Rathschmidt told The Verge.

It may not come as a surprise that the protest could grow so quickly and become so large in such a short time, because that is Reddit’s power. In 2020 Reddit forums practically took control of Wall Street, pushing up the stock value of ailing corporate entities such as Game Stop, AMC, Hertz, and Bed, Bath & Beyond.

In this latest battle, Reddit said it reserves the right to set its own policies and can’t afford to subsidize third-party developers that “require large-scale data use.” Reddit has its own app for users but it is apparently less popular than those provided by third-party developers.

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