If you’re one of the millions of users who checks into Reddit on a daily basis, you may have noticed it’s a bit quieter than usual.

That’s because over 8,000 subreddits have just finished a 48-hour blackout. They’ve been inaccessible in protest of upcoming changes to the way Reddit functions, where third-party apps will soon be charged a fortune for access to the API, essentially forcing them out of business.

Subreddits went private for 48 hours, essentially preventing users from reading or writing on them. But rather than recognising that Reddit is nothing without its gigantic userbase, the company has decided to try and ride things out. 

Unfortunately for its management, we only know this for sure because of a leaked email to staff, which not only outlined the plan to stay the course, but also decided to add a bit of paraffin to the fire by dismissing the protest as just another bit of Reddit drama. Whoops.

“There’s a lot of noise with this one,” CEO Steve Huffman wrote, in an email seen by The Verge. “Among the noisiest we’ve seen. Please know that our teams are on it, and like all blowups on Reddit, this one will pass as well.”

The email adds that the company hasn’t seen “any significant revenue impact so far” but clearly it’s intent on testing whether it can still collapse in on itself. This is a site that forced a hedge fund out of business for fun, after all. 

In response, over 300 subreddits have announced that they will now be inaccessible indefinitely until Reddit comes up with a compromise. That includes the likes of r/aww which boasts over 34 million subscribers, r/music (32.3 million), r/videos (26.6 million) and r/futurology (18.6 million). A running tally of subreddits is ongoing here.

So far, the second wave of protest is a fraction of the first, which in turn is only a fraction of the entirety of Reddit. With around 100,000 on the site, this is relatively smallfry, and those which vanish can always be replaced with new ones.

But if this survey of r/minecraft is anything to go by, regular users are fully onboard with the moderators’ decisions. Of 17,631 people who responded to the poll, 59.4% said the subreddit should go private indefinitely, while 31.2% said it should be “restricted” (showing old post, but not allowing new ones). Just 8.9% said it should go public again.

The history of social networks making decisions that go against the wishes of their product — essentially the users who fill the site with #content — usually isn’t a happy one, and this story is far from over. It will be interesting to see who blinks first.

Image: Brett Jordan / Pexels

Alan Martin
Alan is an experienced and versatile writer with the unique distinction of having written for both The New Statesman and Nuts. The list of publications Alan has written for doesn't stop there. His work has also been published in: Wired, CNET, Gizmodo UK, ShortList, NME, TechRadar, The i, The Independent, The Evening Standard, City Metric, Macworld, Pocket Gamer, Expert Reviews, Coach, The Inquirer, Rock Paper Shotgun, Tom's Guide, T3, PC Pro, IT Pro, Ideal Home, Livingetc, Stuff, Business Insider, theBit, Wareable, and Trusted Reviews. Alan now covers a range of subjects for ReviewsFire, with a focus on news - his unique style of covering technology news is a key part of ReviewsFire's success.

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