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Reddit community goes dark to protest new app policy

Moderators of hundreds of Reddit forums, known as subreddits, blocked access to their groups on Monday to protest the company’s plan to charge for access to data that outside developers can access on the site. App is required to run.

Many said the new pricing plan 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 allegations raised uncertainty about the tools moderators use to manage discussions. An estimated 57 million people visit the platform a day.

reddit announced in April that it would start charging some mass users for access For its application programming interface, or API, the way through which external entities can download and process the social network’s vast selection of memes, GIFs, videos and conversation threads.

Reddit said it no longer wanted to give such valuable assets to companies such as Google, OpenAI and Microsoft, which are using Reddit’s data to develop artificial intelligence systems, which many in Silicon Valley are touting as the next big thing. Let’s see in

“Reddit needs to be a self-sustaining business, and in order to do that, we can no longer subsidize commercial entities that require massive data usage,” Reddit chief executive Steve Huffman said in a statement Friday. is required.”Ask me anythingSite discussion.

But the allegations have sparked a huge backlash among volunteer moderators from the site’s diverse communities, who said they would block access to their groups for at least 48 hours from Monday in what they called a coordinated protest.

moderator of Some of Reddit’s Most Popular subreddits – including r/weirdwith over 40 million members, and r/gaming, r/music And r/scienceEach of which had more than 30 million members—participating in protest setting their pages to private and posting messages denouncing the new terms and prices.

Moderators of several smaller groups also went dark as part of the demonstration.

A Reddit spokesperson said that for a brief period on Monday, the protest made it difficult for some users to access Reddit, as “moving a significant number of subreddits to private caused some expected stability issues”. “

Developers of several popular apps said they would have to shut them down due to the new pricing system.

Apollo, an iOS app widely praised within the mobile developer community for its design interface and rich features, is planning to shut down on June 30. post on reddit By its developer, Christian Selig. He said the new pricing plan would pay Apollo $20 million annually.

“I hope it goes without saying that 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 — rif is fun for Reddit, ReddPlanet and Sync — also announced plans to shut down on June 30, citing what they called unreasonable costs, the tech news site said. ledge informed of.

moderator of r/blindA Center for Blind and Visually Impaired Users with more than 20,000 members, said the fees could jeopardize third-party apps that translate Reddit text to speech and that prevent blind and visually impaired users from participating in discussions on the site. Let’s allow.

Noah Carver, one of the r/blind moderators, said in a statement on behalf of his group: “Not only will the proposed changes to Reddit’s API exclude visually impaired users from the social network used by millions, it will also will separate from World; They would also largely destroy the communities of blind people — and people with disabilities in general — that have thrived on Reddit despite the company’s perceived indifference.

Since its inception in 2005, Reddit has been known for embracing freedom of speech, freedom of code and freedom of data, which allowed users to build tools and apps around the site, said Cornell University postdoctoral associate said Sarah Gilbert, who studies content moderation. and data ethics. are also moderators r/Ask Historians subreddit, which joined the protest,

Ms Gilbert said the pricing scheme could undermine the platform’s volunteer-driven culture, which sets it apart from other social media sites.

“It’s not just about people being unhappy that they can no longer have their favorite app,” he said in an interview. “It’s about the loss of community or the fear of loss of community.”

Reddit spokesman Tim Rathschmidt said the company was “in contact with various Reddit communities to clarify any confusion regarding our Data API terms, platform-wide policies, community support resources, and the timing for new moderator tools.”

He added that Reddit spends millions of dollars on Internet hosting fees and “needs to pay appropriately to continue supporting high-usage third-party apps.”

“Our pricing is based on a level of usage that we measure to be comparable to our costs,” he wrote in an email.

Mr. Rathschmidt said that some apps are more efficient and require significantly fewer API calls and that “Apollo is notably less efficient than other third-party apps.”

“The vast majority of API users will not have to pay for access; Use of all third-party apps does not require payment,” he wrote, adding that access “is free for moderator tools and bots.”

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