Subreddits Go Dark to Protest API Changes

Changes to Reddit’s API pricing will kill third-party apps June 30

Some communities, including r/iPhone, decided to go dark earlier than the planned June 12 start of the protest. Photo by Josh Levin.

By Josh Levin
Published June 12, 2023 | Updated February 18, 2024 at 10:27 am

Subreddit moderators set more than 5,000 communities to private today to protest recent Reddit API pricing changes.

Reddit announced that it would begin charging for access to its API, which allows programmers to integrate their apps with Reddit’s services, in a post April 18, raising concern from third-party developers and moderators.

More than 23,000 moderators across 5,000 communities are participating in the strike, according to the organizers of the protest. Some of the largest communities on the platform are participating, including r/funny, r/aww, r/gaming, r/music and r/art. The participating communities have 2.1 billion combined members.

Most participating subreddits have committed to a two-day strike, but others — including r/music which has more than 32 million users — have decided to remain private indefinitely unless Reddit reverses the decision.

Reddit also experienced a major outage during the strike, according to an 10:58 a.m. update posted on the company’s status page. “We’re aware of problems loading content and are working to resolve the issues as quickly as possible,” the update stated. A 1:26 p.m. update marked the incident as resolved.

In response to the changes, nearly 9,000 users signed an open letter to Reddit. “Many of us rely on third-party apps to manage our communities effectively,” the letter stated. “The prohibitive cost threatens to make it difficult to mod from mobile, stifle innovation, limit user choice, and effectively shut down a significant portion of the culture we’ve all come to appreciate.”

Some users have also taken to more drastic action including deleting all of their Reddit posts or mass-editing comments to say that they were removed in protest.

Reddit CEO Steve Huffman hosted an “ask me anything” question-and-answer session June 9, in which he answered just 14 questions, further angering members of the community. At the time of writing, the thread has zero upvotes and nearly 32000 comments.

“None of the answers given resolved concerns. It failed to instill trust in Reddit’s leadership and their decisions,” Reddit user Femilip, who moderates communities with more than 200,000 combined users, wrote in their response to the AMA.

Huffman also had a call with some moderators of large subreddits in which he reportedly claimed that Christian Selig, developer of the third-party Reddit app Apollo, attempted to threaten or blackmail Reddit for $10 million on a previous phone call.

Selig denied the accusations and released a transcript and recording of the original call, in which he makes a joke about a $10 million acquisition. “If you think Apollo is costing you $20 million per year, cut me a check for $10 million and we can both skip off into the sunset. Six months of use. We’re good. That’s mostly a joke,” Selig said during the call.

Huffman continued to discredit Selig during the AMA. “His ‘joke’ is the least of our issues. His behavior and communications with us has been all over the place—saying one thing to us while saying something completely different externally; recording and leaking a private phone call—to the point where I don’t know how we could do business with him,” Huffman wrote.

Reddit did not respond to The Terabyte Tribune’s request for comment.

Selig announced that the changes will force Apollo to shut down June 30. Another third-party app, Reddit is Fun, announced the same shortly thereafter.

According to Selig, Apollo’s 7 billion requests would cost $1.7 million every month. “Even if I only kept subscription users, the average Apollo user uses 344 requests per day, which would cost $2.50 per month,” Selig stated. Apollo’s subscription offering, Apollo Ultra, costs $1.49 per month.

Stated Selig, “It’s been a horrible week, and the kindness Redditors and moderators and communities have shown Apollo and other third-party apps has genuinely made it much more bearable and I am genuinely so appreciative.”

The Terabyte Tribune will continue to cover this story as it develops.

  • Updated at 9:16 a.m. to more accurately reflect the number of communities and moderators participating.
  • Updated at 11:32 a.m. to include information on Reddit’s “major outage”.
  • Updated at 11:50 a.m. based on Reddit’s 11:47 a.m. incident update.
  • Updated at 1:38 p.m. to mark the “major outage” as resolved.
Josh Levin is the founder and editor in chief of The Terabyte Tribune, handling all aspects of operations and coverage. He can be reached via email at [email protected]