Reddit has been the go-to source for many types of content for a long time. It’s a place to go to get feedback and answers to questions without the typical spam and banal comments you see on other social media platforms. Recently, they announced upcoming changes to the Reddit API, including a monthly fee for access. This puts pretty much all third-party tools at risk and Reddit users aren’t happy.
In protest to the announced changes, thousands of subreddits have gone private, preventing anybody from engaging or even reading them. Some have shut down for 48 hours, while others remain closed indefinitely until the latest changes are reversed. These shutdowns include many of the most popular photography and video-related groups with tens of millions of subscribers between them.
The updates to the platform were initially announced in April and come into force in July. Among them is a new fee being introduced in order to access the Reddit API. This is how third-party apps and services access the Reddit system in order to interact with it. This includes everything from third-party clients – which many prefer as an alternative to Reddit’s own pretty terrible smartphone app – to machine learning AI systems.
It’s the latter that the fee is intended to deter, although app developers and third-party clients that will get caught up in the mess. The API is also used for a number of tools that help moderators do their jobs, too. With some subreddits having subscribers in the millions, without these tools, moderation becomes almost impossible.
Fees to access will start at several thousand dollars per month, going into the millions depending on the number of queries made. Christian Selig, developer of the popular client, Apollo for Reddit has said that Reddit plans to charge about $12,000 for every 50 million queries. This means his fees would work out to $20,000,000 per year for an app. He also suggests that this would be untenable and the app would simply disappear.
But how does this affect photographers, filmmakers, YouTubers and content creators? Well, many of the biggest subreddits targeted towards us are currently shut down in protest of the changes, and they may not re-open. Some of those include:
As you can see, it’s a wide range of topics for creatives, including how to deal with the business issues of being a freelance creative. These are just a tiny sample of the thousands of subreddits that have also closed their doors. It also makes many Google search results invalid as topics point to Reddit threads that are no longer accessible – I’ve already run into this several times today while writing other posts.
Some of these subreddits are staying dark for 48 hours in protest. Their goal is to hit Reddit where it hurts, in their wallet, by making the content (and the ads served on it) unavailable for a 48-hour period. Other subreddits have committed to staying dark indefinitely unless the changes are reversed. Many users of Apollo and other third-party clients have said they will leave the service permanently if those apps disappear.
While Reddit might be following in the steps of Elon Musk’s Twitter in charging for access to its API, it seems they may also follow Twitter down the tubes with a mass user exodus and reduced profits.
If you want to see the complete story of the changes Reddit currently plans to make to their service, check out this excellent post on The Verge that covers the events chronologically.