It is not just Twitter dealing with user backlash due to data access restrictions.
Reddit is also looking to limit how its data can be used by hiking the price of its API entry points. It has sparked ongoing protests within Reddit’s user community.
Several subreddit moderators maintained strike action to oppose the new changes in Reddit.
Back in April, Reddit announced that it would be increasing the price of its API access, apparently to ensure that it would be ‘fairly paid’ for such moving forward.
But more directly, Reddit, just like Twitter, aims to combat the rising amount of generative A.I. projects that use Reddit data to fuel their large language models or L.L.M.s.
Such systems take large caches of conversational data, and Meta and LinkedIn have already locked down their info to a large degree.
Now it is Reddit and Twitter that have become the key focal points for getting such data which is why they are both trying to stop data scraping and restrict access.
It could see other businesses essentially profiting off of their platforms.
The collateral damage is that many popular third-party Reddit apps, like Reddit reader ‘Apollo,’ have been forced to shut down.
It angered several users and started raising questions about the value of the work that moderators do for the site.
If Reddit is making millions off of API access, why are the subreddit moderators who are maintaining and managing large portions of the site not getting paid?
Thus, it sets the wheels in motion for the protest action that moderators initially began by switching their communities to ‘Private.’
Reddit has sought to subvert by appealing to other big users in each to become moderators as an alternative to the current managers.
In response to that, some moderators switched their communities to NSFW. It means that Reddit could no longer sell ads against their content.
This action triggered Reddit management to take more drastic action to combat the protest by threatening to remove moderators who keep their communities locked or otherwise obscured from public access without clear reason.
But still, the protest continues. Almost a month on from the first blackout action, over the weekend, moderators of the well-known subreddit r/AM or ‘Ask Me Anything’ announced that they would no longer be running celebrity interviews in the app.
As per r/AMA (rephrasing from the original post says that, Reddit executives have shown that they won’t yield to the pressure of the protest.
They have told the media that they plan to remove moderators who keep subreddits shut down and have no intentions of making changes.
So, moving forward, they will run IAMA like your average subreddit. They will continue to moderate and remove spam and enforce rules.
However, effective immediately, they plan to […] discontinue active solicitation of celebrities or high-profile figures to do A.M.A.s.
They would be running and maintaining a website for scheduling A.M.A.s and maintaining a current, up-to-date sidebar calendar of scheduled A.M.A.s.
The moderators of r/AMA have also noted that Reddit leadership has all the funds they need to hire people to perform those extra tasks.
Hence, the moderators have formerly undertaken the responsibility of volunteer moderators. Hence, they have little interest in returning to work for the website if it continues down its current path.
It will be a big blow to Reddit’s long-term viability. Reddit’s A.M.A.s are arguably its most well-known original content element with many high-profile celebrities.
Sometimes, even world leaders are known to participate in this in-app Q and A sessions with Reddit users.
Hence, Reddit draws in more immediate users who tune in live and helps get Reddit more exposure through subsequent press coverage of the responses.
While the content also lives on in Google search, feeding more traffic to the site. Losing it will be a major problem for the app. It will force Reddit to negotiate more actively with its current moderation crews.
R/AMA further notes that Reddit has thus far been unwilling to do as Reddit C.E.O. Steve Huffman told The Verge in a particularly testy interview recently.
Steve Huffman has said they have blackouts in previous times where there is a little more room for the movement. But the core of this one is the API pricing change.
According to him, it is their business decision. And he further says that they are going to continue that business decision.
Huffman has essentially planted his flag on this hill and seems unwilling to consider any discussion around the change. Meanwhile, the protest still drags on.
It must impact Reddit usage; you would assume he will have to reconsider this stance or look to work with the user and moderator community to some degree.
The effective loss of r/AMA is another big hit on this front, and it will be interesting to see how many hits Reddit can take before it has to re-address the ongoing action.
It looks like it is unavoidably going to harm Reddit’s valuation. It is a critical concern, given that it is also looking to launch an I.P.O. at some stage.
Can Reddit regain the trust of its moderator community and get back to a normal level of doing business? Or will it highlight the pitfalls of relying on volunteer admins when trying to run a business?
Only time will tell what course of action both parties are willing to take.
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