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The Reddit blackout shows no signs of stopping


The Reddit blackout shows no signs of stopping

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A widespread Reddit blackout affecting some of the site’s largest communities has continued into its third day with no signs of stopping, as a number of groups on the site vowed to remain closed off indefinitely to protest changes to the platform’s data policies.

As of Wednesday afternoon, more than 6,000 subreddits remained inaccessible and in private mode after what began as a two-day voluntary shutdown. The blackout includes popular forums such as r/aww, r/videos and r/music, each of which claims more than 25 million subscribers on the platform.

The extended protest highlights the commitment of some users, moderators and developers to a long-term standoff with Reddit’s management over a decision to begin charging steep fees for third-party data access to its platform.

Reddit didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment.

The coming fees have provoked broad outrage because of their expected impact on independent apps and moderator tools that have grown up around Reddit and that many users view as a critical resource. Some of the largest third-party apps, such as Apollo and RIF, have said they cannot afford the fees and must shut down, effectively driving users to Reddit’s native app that has been widely panned as slow, buggy and inferior, particularly for users with disabilities.

In recent days, Reddit has said it would exempt some accessibility apps from the price changes and allow some third-party tools to continue operating through its application programming interface (API). But many moderators have called the announcements little more than a “microscopic” concession.

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In response to allegations that Reddit is imposing the fees and forcing developers to shut down in a “profit-driven” move, Reddit co-founder and CEO Steve Huffman said in a recent Q&A with users that Reddit will “continue to be profit-driven until profits arrive.”

“Unlike some of the [third-party] apps, we are not profitable,” Huffman said.

The tensions echo how Twitter, under its new owner Elon Musk, has prompted criticism with plans for its own paywall for data in a bid to develop new revenue sources and to shore up the company’s struggling finances. For Reddit, the stakes are also high to grow revenue, as the company reportedly looks to go public later this year.

Huffman reportedly dismissed the blackout in a leaked internal memo obtained by The Verge. According to the memo, Huffman described the protest as “among the noisiest we’ve seen” but insisted that “like all blowups on Reddit, this one will pass as well.”

“We absolutely must ship what we said we would,” Huffman reportedly wrote in the memo, in an apparent reference to the API changes. Huffman also reportedly predicted that some subreddits would end their protest after the initially scheduled two days.

As of Wednesday morning, many groups participating in the blackout had lifted their self-imposed restrictions. But even as some groups went public once more, others joined the protest.

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