TL;DR: Reddit is making their tracker-filled mobile app the only way to access Reddit on mobile devices, they are falsely accusing third-party developers of blackmail, and they are on a path to severely lower the quality of content posted on Reddit and increase the amount of spam you see. To stand against these changes, alongside numerous large subreddits, Privacy Guides is not currently available on Reddit.
As we discussed and announced a week ago on Reddit, the Privacy Guides subreddit is being made private from June 12 to June 14th to call attention to Reddit’s most recent anti-consumer behavior.
A few weeks ago, Reddit unveiled plans to change the pricing for their API from $0 to $12,000 for 50 million requests. For third-party clients like Apollo on iOS or Sync on Android, this suddenly put the cost to create such an app in the realm of $20,000,000 per year, a figure clearly unsustainable for third-party Reddit client developers. For comparison, Imgur—a website with a similar userbase and size to Reddit—charges developers approximately $166 for every 50 million requests. This change in Reddit’s pricing to far beyond any reasonable market value was driven solely to eliminate third-party clients from the market, in order to force Reddit users to use the official app instead, a plan which was successful given that most major third-party Reddit clients have now announced they are shutting down by the end of this month.
Reddit’s API changes also affect a number of bots which are critical for moderation. Reddit cutting off access to clients and bots which moderators require to effectively care for their communities will only result in Reddit being overtaken by spam and low-quality content.
The internet is supposed to be an open standard, and information on the internet cannot be funneled solely through proprietary first-party clients. The difficulty I had in merely archiving the r/PrivacyGuides announcement post on the New Reddit design (note everything missing here on internet archive) clearly demonstrates the danger of locking information into closed ecosystems like Reddit, where merely accessing this information is subject to their whims.
Open APIs and third-party clients are paramount to enabling privacy-friendly access to otherwise proprietary silos on the web. Through the use of those APIs and clients, it was possible to interact with Reddit in an entirely user-controlled, privacy-friendly way. Reddit’s restrictions take that choice away, making their official app virtually the only portal to the information on their platform available to mobile users.
While Reddit is certainly within their rights to make these changes, Reddit users are certainly within their rights to reject these changes and choose an alternative.
We—obviously—think that the r/PrivacyGuides community is hugely beneficial to the internet at large, and a lot of great discussions take place informing people about privacy and protecting their data online. All of this taking place on Reddit was a necessary price to pay in order to reach a ton of new people and get them interested in private, open-source technologies, but if Reddit is going to abuse that power and try to control those people into using privacy-invasive clients, the cost of that might outweigh any benefit to us remaining on the platform.
In the past week, Reddit has largely made two real announcements about this change:
Firstly, they announced that they would keep the API free to certain clients which provide accessibility features. It should go without saying that this is just another way of Reddit saying: Because we are unwilling to make our website and apps accessibility-friendly ourselves, we will very generously let third-party developers do it for us for free.
Their second response has been to falsely accuse a prominent developer of blackmail, and then double down on their false accusations when confronted with irrefutable proof of their behavior. Threatening and accusing people in private messages, and then acting like the victim when those people publish those messages to refute your claims is incredibly toxic and inappropriate behavior from anybody working on any project, much less the CEO of Reddit.com.
In my view, this childish behavior from Reddit moves this situation far past the typical money-grabbing moves you should expect from Big Tech corporations and into legitimate concerns about integrity and stability at Reddit. If their leadership is going to devolve into Twitter-esque, dictatorship-fueled decision making, the entire platform can no longer be trusted as a source of knowledge at all.
I don’t know what Reddit’s response to this widespread protest will be. In any event, the Subreddit will re-open, but if Reddit’s response is to do nothing, then r/PrivacyGuides will re-open in restricted, mod-only posting mode. Then we will have a community discussion about our next steps.
Reddit choosing to do nothing is—in my opinion—an untenable solution. While we will re-open r/PrivacyGuides in order to allow people to access the vast community knowledge that is already there (while you still can), it is entirely possible that the subreddit will remain restricted indefinitely. It is hard to imagine a reason why we should encourage our incredibly helpful and generous community to continue to provide valuable content to Reddit for free, only for Reddit to go down this privacy-invasive, ad-first path.
In any case, I would strongly encourage you to stop using Reddit going forward. The fiascos at Twitter and now Reddit clearly demonstrate that centralized big tech companies can no longer be trusted with being the gatekeepers to user-generated information (as if they ever could, hah!).
I think that smaller, federated communities like Lemmy/Kbin/Mastodon are the future of knowledge-sharing on the internet, and the new Privacy Guides community on the fediverse can be joined from any ActivityPub enabled instance, such as:
- On Kbin.social: https://email@example.com
- On Lemmy.world: https://firstname.lastname@example.org
- On Beehaw.org: https://email@example.com
- On Lemmy.one: https://lemmy.one/c/privacyguides
- On Lemmy.ml: https://firstname.lastname@example.org
- On any other Lemmy instance, search for
All of these are links to the same community, just pick whichever site you already have an account on.