Why is r/PrivacyGuides Private?

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.

What is Reddit doing?

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.

Why does Privacy Guides care?

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.

Reddit’s Current Response (Unmitigated Disaster)

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.

What happens on June 15th?

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.

What’s Next?

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:

All of these are links to the same community, just pick whichever site you already have an account on.

Privacy Guides additionally hosts a Discourse forum at discuss.privacyguides.net where we have discussions about and analyze various privacy tools.

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Reddit deserves to be abandoned, and everyone’s focus should be better shifted towards alternatives such as Lemmy.

I know quite a few people who complain about Reddit or Twitter, but they don’t realise that alternatives such as Mastadon and Lemmy are there. Instead of looking for an excuse to use Reddit and Twitter or how to use them privately, it would be better to focus on Lemmy and Mastadon and use them.

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Will Libreddit also be affected by the API or is it “scraping” the website and therefore unaffected?

Lemmy seems like a good alternative. Unfortunately the main developer (who also runs the main instance) is a literal communist and Stalin apologist. So I would urge anyone creating a Lemmy account to choose one of the smaller, unpolitical servers or self-host.

I support everyone who is participating out of principle. If anyone want a real time feed of the subreddits that are private. Here you go! https://reddark.untone.uk/

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Reddit is dead.

I registered with lemmy.one and beehaw. But I can’t login at all and it stuck on login page. What did I do wrong? Any solution.

Update: The subreddit is open in restricted mode, so past posts can be browsed again. Follow up request for feedback (posted to Reddit because we want feedback from current Subreddit members).

Don’t be fooled by the spin coming from Reddit CEO and PR dept, the new exorbitant API pricing is part of a broader attempt to force users onto Reddit’s official subpar and privacy invasive mobile app. It is obvious if you zoom out and look at the big picture:

  1. Reddit is preparting for an IPO, and needs to be looking as attracive and valuable to potential investors as possible.
  2. They announced they will begin charging for API usage (which is reasonable) but the prices they announced (and the timeline to transition) are not designed to get 3rd party apps to pay their fare share (which would be reasonable), like Twitter the pricing was designed to be prohibitive and eliminate or severely handicap 3rd party apps.
  3. At the same time they have announced other changes that handicap 3rd party app in other ways (no longer being able to show NSFW content for example).
  4. Finally, and most tellingly, at the same time as these changes were being planned and announced, Reddit was running a test on some users where they prevented them from using the mobile website at all (probably to gauge how users would react to not being able to use the mobile website, and lay the groundwork for laying this out to all users.

Take all this together and it paints an obvious picture, Reddit is simultaneously (1) shutting out 3rd party apps, while (2) preparing to (or at least testing the viability of) preventing users from accessing reddit via a browser on mobile (forcing users to use their app).

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I totally do think thats the case, and Reddit Inc just plans to “wait out” the blackout and continue down the same path.

It’s part of a new trend from tech giants to double down, triple down no matter what. There will always be people wanting to consume frivolous content and those users can be monetized like any other. Reddit users are simply seen as “digital cattle”.

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Keep in mind that the feedback you’re getting on the reddit thread is going to be weighted towards keeping reddit open because a lot of us have already left the platform. So it’s mainly the stragglers that will dominate that thread.

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Try signing up with Kbin.social if Lemmy is lagging.

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Is there a recommended instance for account creation, of the ones suggested? Does it matter at all?

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