More than 6,000 communities on the social networking forum Reddit are going dark for 48 hours starting Monday in protest of a fee hike for developers that use the site's data.
Popular discussion threads, known as subreddits, including r/music, r/art, r/videos, r/gaming, r/science, and r/funny have been set to private mode and some will close indefinitely. A growing list of other communities are joining.
"Closed Indefinitely for Reddit API Policy Change Protest — The musical community of reddit," a message says on the r/music page, a community to discuss all things music-related.
Reddit recently increased fees for third-party developers to access its API, or application programming interface. One such company called Apollo that operates a Reddit browser app for iOS and iPadOS has claimed that under the new fees model it would have to pay potentially more than $20 million per year to continue operating.
"Apollo will close down on June 30th. Reddit's recent decisions and actions have unfortunately made it impossible for Apollo to continue. Thank you so, so much for all the support over the years," said Apollo founder Christian Selig on Twitter.
Reddit, which filed paperwork with the Securities and Exchange Commission in December 2021 for an intended initial public offering that has since stalled, is following moves from companies such as Twitter to increase fees in an effort to monetize more of its platform.
Reddit founder and Chief Executive Steve Huffman articulated the shift in a New York Times interview published in April .
"The Reddit corpus of data is really valuable," said Huffman. "But we don't need to give all of that value to some of the largest companies in the world for free."
Many companies such as OpenAI and Microsoft have used Reddit conversations in developing and training large text-generated language models for new AI technology such as ChatGPT. Huffman has stated that this data "crawling" is not returning value to Reddit's users.
"Reddit needs to be a self-sustaining business, and to do that, we can no longer subsidize commercial entities that require large-scale data use," said Huffman in a Reddit Ask-Me-Anything about changes to API and noting that Reddit has not made a profit yet.
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