Moderators of hundreds of Reddit forums, known as subreddits, shut down access to their groups on Monday to protest the company’s plan to charge for access to data that outside developers need to run apps on the site.
Many said the new pricing system could eliminate some of the most popular third-party apps that many users rely on to browse and comment on the site. Others said the accusations raised uncertainty about the tools mediators use to manage discussions. An estimated 57 million people visit the platform daily.
Reddit announced in April that it would begin charging some users at scale for access to an Application Programming Interface, or API, the way outside entities can download and process the social network’s vast collection of memes, gifs, videos, and conversation threads.
Reddit said it no longer wanted to give away such valuable assets to companies like Google, OpenAI and Microsoft, which use Reddit data to develop artificial intelligence systems that many in Silicon Valley see as the next big thing.
“Reddit must be a self-sustaining business, and to do that we can no longer support commercial entities that require large scale data usage,” Reddit CEO Steve Hoffman said Friday.ask me anythingdiscussion on the site.
But the accusations sparked a backlash among volunteer moderators from the site’s diverse communities, who said they would shut down access to their groups for at least 48 hours, starting Monday, in what they described as a coordinated protest.
supervisors on Some of the most popular Reddit sites subreddits – including r / funnywith over 40 million members, and r / gamesAnd r / music And r / flagwith more than 30 million members each – were taking part in the protest by setting their pages to a private page and posting messages condemning the new terms and prices.
The supervisors of several small groups also went into the dark as part of the demonstration.
Briefly on Monday, a Reddit spokesperson said the outcry made it difficult for some users to access Reddit because “a large number of subreddits going private caused some expected stability issues,” adding that the issues had been resolved.
Developers of several popular apps have said they will have to close them due to the new pricing system.
Apollo, an iOS app widely praised in the mobile developer community for its interface design and rich features, plans to shut down on June 30, according to Apple. Posted on Reddit By its developer Christian Selig. He said Apollo would have to pay $20 million annually under the new pricing scheme.
“I hope to say I don’t have that kind of money or even know how to charge it to a credit card,” he wrote.
At least three other Reddit apps — fun rif for Reddit, ReddPlanet and Sync — have also announced plans to shut down on June 30, citing what they called unreasonable costs, the technology news site says. the edge mentioned.
brokers r / blindThe charges could threaten third-party apps that translate Reddit text into speech and allow blind and visually impaired users to participate in discussions on the site, said the charges, a center for blind and partially sighted users with more than 20,000 members.
Noah Carver, a r/blind moderator, said in a statement on behalf of his group: “The proposed changes to the Reddit API will not only isolate blind users from a social network used by millions of people, thus separating us from the wider world; Much to the blind – and disabled communities in general – communities that have thrived on Reddit despite the company’s perceived indifference.”
Since its founding in 2005, Reddit has been known for embracing freedom of speech, freedom of code, and freedom of data, allowing users to build tools and applications around the site, said Sarah Gilbert, a postdoctoral fellow at Cornell University who studies content moderation. and data ethics. She is also a mediator P/Ask Historians subreddit, which Join the protest.
Ms Gilbert said the pricing plan could undermine the platform’s volunteer-led culture, which sets it apart from other social media sites.
“It’s not just that people are not happy that they can no longer have their favorite app,” she said in an interview. “It’s about missing out on the community or the fear of missing out on the community.”
Tim Rathschmidt, a Reddit spokesperson, said the company has been in touch with various Reddit communities “to clear up any confusion about our API terms, platform-level policies, community support resources, and timing of new moderator tools.”
He said Reddit spends millions of dollars on internet hosting fees and “needs to be paid fairly to continue supporting high traffic third party applications”.
“Our pricing is based on usage levels that we measure to be comparable to our own costs,” he wrote in an email.
Mr. Rathschmidt added that some applications are more efficient and require fewer API calls and that “Apollo is significantly less efficient than other third-party applications.”
“The vast majority of API users will not have to pay for access; not all third-party apps require paid access to use,” he wrote, adding that access is “free for admin tools and bots.”
In response to concerns about accessibility raised by groups such as r/blind people, Mr. Rathschmidt said the company has offered new price waivers for non-commercial apps that address accessibility issues. He said many of these developers have signed agreements with Reddit.
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