Reddit blackout: On Monday, subreddits will become private

Image of the Apollo Reddit application

On Monday, thousands of Reddit communities won't be accessible as a show of displeasure at the way the website is being run.

Reddit is imposing contentious fees on the creators of third-party apps that are used to access the social media site.

But this led to a backlash, and in protest, moderators of some of the most popular subreddits made their communities private for 48 hours.

As a result, almost 3,500 subreddits won't be accessible.

A forum on the Reddit platform is known as a subreddit; it is essentially a group of people who come together to talk about a shared interest.

Instead of following specific users on other platforms, Reddit users, or Redditors, typically join a variety of subreddits and see posts from these communities in their feed.

Unlike other social media platforms, Reddit heavily relies on user community moderation.

The website depends on tens of thousands of unpaid moderators, also known as mods, in addition to a few paid administrators to keep it running.

These moderators may spend one or two hours per day making sure that their subreddit doesn't become clogged with irrelevant or illegal comments.

On the other hand, those who want to create their own communities around interests they have do not have to pay any hosting fees to Reddit.

3,489 subreddits in total will be blocked, including five of the ten most popular ones, r/gaming, r/aww, r/music, r/todayilearned, and r/pics, which have a combined membership of more than 30 million.

One of these subreddits' moderators told the BBC that the protest was about "strength in numbers.".

Reddit might step in if just one subreddit decided to go private, they said.

But you feel much more pressured if it's only half of the website.

"Despite the fact that we are performing this work entirely on a volunteer basis and without payment, we like to treat it seriously. ".

They claimed they wanted Reddit admins to understand that moderators are essential to running the site and believed that the only effective way to do so was to hurt Reddit's traffic.

They declared, "Our entire community is with us in opposing this change.".

It is empowering to be able to state, "We will stop moderating our communities if you force these changes through.

"Would they destroy what they've created in all these communities if it's almost the entire website, just to push through this highly unpopular change that both the moderators and users of Reddit are overwhelmingly against?".

The official app for Reddit, which bills itself as "the front page of the internet," was created in 2016, many years after the website was established.

Due to this, third-party apps were developed as a way for users to access the platform on their mobile devices, including Apollo, Reddit is Fun, Sync, and ReddPlanet.

Reddit has implemented a number of fees for developers who want to keep using its Application Programming Interface (API), the back-end code that enables external apps to find and display Reddit content.

Due to Reddit's new API pricing, all four of these apps have announced that they will be ceasing operations.

These fees have drawn harsh criticism for being extortionate; Apollo developer Christian Selig estimated that running the app would ultimately cost him $20 million (£15 point 9 million).

Apollo was "notably less efficient" than other third-party apps, a Reddit spokesperson told the BBC.

They claimed that in order to continue supporting third-party apps, the social media platform "needs to be fairly paid" for the "multi-millions of dollars in hosting fees.".

According to them, "Our pricing is based on usage levels that are comparable to our own costs.".

The spokesperson added that not all third-party applications would demand a subscription. Reddit previously declared it would not charge developers for creating apps that make the site more user-friendly.

The moderator who the BBC spoke with, however, expressed the opinion that the blackout might last until Reddit retracts the changes.

"Many communities' current plan is. They could extend the blackout's duration past the initial 48 hours or keep access to their subreddits restricted so that no one can post, they warned.

"It varies because every community runs differently and because different moderators have different perspectives on what's going on right now.

"However, based on recent correspondence between moderators and Reddit admins, I don't think they intend to roll back these changes. ".

And some groups, like the 32 million-member r/Music community, assert that their subreddit will remain inaccessible indefinitely unless Reddit changes its policy.

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