Reddit protests: why did thousands of subreddits go dark and what does AI have to do with it?

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solo13 June 2023Last Update : 4 months ago
Reddit protests: why did thousands of subreddits go dark and what does AI have to do with it?

Reddit users could not access popular subreddits on Monday after communities protested against the platform’s data access plans.

Thousands of popular Reddit communities dedicated to topics ranging from Apple Inc to gaming and music shut down their users on Monday in protest of the company’s plan to charge for access to their data.

Starting next month, third-party app developers using Reddit’s vast trove of data will have to pay a price and the changes could affect players across the spectrum – from deep-pocketed companies like OpenAI to smaller developers.

Apollo Apps – popular among Redditors for its alternative interface to the official platform – has said the exorbitant fees have “made it impossible” to continue offering the service.

Here are some facts about the protest.

What prompted the blackout?

The action has been ongoing for weeks after Reddit announced in April that it would begin charging third parties for its application programming interface (API) – a software framework that enables data providers and end users to communicate with each other. allows for.

Starting July 1, Reddit plans to charge developers who require higher usage limits $0.24 (€0.22) for every 1,000 API calls, or as low as $1 (€0.93) per user per month.

Apollo said that with their current use, the charges would cost more than $20 million per year.

Why is Reddit making the change?

One reason for this is generative AI.

Reddit’s conversation forums contain a lot of data that can be used to train tools like ChatGPT, the viral chatbot from Microsoft-backed OpenAI. While some of this data may be collected in an unstructured manner, Reddit’s API makes it easy for companies to find and compare data directly.

Reddit CEO Steve Huffman said in an April interview with the New York Times that “the Reddit corpus of data is really valuable” and that “some of the biggest companies in the world don’t need to give all that value” to free it. For”.

Who is affected and when will the Reddit blackout end?

Thousands of subreddits – dedicated forums on a specific topic on Reddit – are protesting the move and most of their moderators have planned a 48-hour blackout, during which pages will go private, meaning millions of users will be left without access. Will remain

Subreddits such as r/music, r/gaming, r/science, and r/todaylearned – all with over 30 million subscribers – are participating. Some like r/Music plan to protest indefinitely.

Unlike most other social media platforms, Reddit relies heavily on community moderators, “or mods”, who police their subreddits for free to remove offensive or illegal content.

What are third-party app developers saying?

Christian Selig, the creator of the Apollo app for Reddit, tweeted last week that the service would be shutting down on June 30.

Huffman has said that other third-party apps such as Reddit is Fun and Sync that also set the new pricing “doesn’t work for their businesses and will be shut down before the pricing goes into effect”.

What is reddit saying?

Huffman noted frustration Friday among many moderators of Reddit communities, but said the company can no longer subsidize commercial entities that require massive data use because it needs to be a “self-sustaining business.”

What are other social media companies doing?

Elon Musk’s Twitter in January banned all third-party clients and apps and updated its rules for developers to access its APIs.

The new rules state that developers cannot use the company’s API to create “a substitute for the Twitter application or a similar service or product”.

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