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Reddit blackout: What is the reason?



After Reddit announced on May 31 that there would be a certain amount to be paid by the third-party application, the communities of the platform are protesting with a 48-hour blackout from June 12 (today) by going private, citing fears of going out of the business.  

Going private means anyone outside the community will not be able to see their posts.

Responding to the announcement, the community outlined three demands focused on Reddit’s application programming interface (API), accessibility for blind people, and access to content that’s deemed not suitable for work (NSFW).

Reddit is one of the 20 most popular social platforms founded in 2005.

Thousands of subreddits are participating in the blackout protest, according to a Reddit post, ranging by size from 5,000 users to more than 40 million users.

Forums such as r/todayilearned, r/funny and r/gaming, with more than 30 million subscribers apiece, have signed up to join, while others with 1 million plus members, including r/iPhone and r/unexpected, went already private on the strike call.

Cumulatively, it makes more than 2.6 billion subscribers and more than 28,000 moderators.

According to a BBC report, the participating subreddits are going private and won’t be accessible during the blackout.

The changes will introduce huge charges for “premium access”, effectively killing off popular third-party Reddit apps such as Apollo, which lets users browse the site with a customisable interface.

Such apps would need to charge about $5 a user per month simply to pay the new fees to Reddit, Apollo’s sole developer, Christian Selig estimated.

But the Reddit conflict has another cause which is between the social network and AI companies such as ChatGPT creator OpenAI, which have used huge data from the service to train their systems.

“The Reddit corpus of data is really valuable,” Steve Huffman, founder and chief executive of Reddit, told the New York Times in April.

“But we don’t need to give all of that value to some of the largest companies in the world for free.”

In a group statement, the moderators of the thousands of subreddits that were joining the protest said: “On June 12th, many subreddits will be going dark to protest this policy. Some will return after 48 hours: others will go away permanently unless the issue is adequately addressed since many moderators aren’t able to put in the work they do with the poor tools available through the official app.” 

The statement also added: “This isn’t something any of us do lightly: we do what we do because we love Reddit, and we truly believe this change will make it impossible to keep doing what we love.”

By uniting in this way, moderators hope to exert pressure on Reddit’s administration to reconsider the new charges and address their concerns.

The blackout signifies the importance of third-party apps in enhancing the Reddit user experience and providing additional features not found in the official app. 

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