Here's how we got to a Reddit blackout - happening right now

Apollo For Reddit On Iphone
(Image credit: Future)

Have you tried to go on Reddit this morning and noticed that your favorite subreddit is locked and inaccessible? That's because communities across Reddit are taking a stand against the company's attempt to kill off third-party applications like Apollo by increasing the costs of using Reddit's API.

Why is there a Reddit blackout?

Reddit's official app was released in 2016, 11 years after the website first launched. That means that the majority of Reddit users have always used third-party applications to access the platform on smartphones. 

In order to access Reddit, these third-party applications require an API (Application Programming Interface).

Christian Selig, the developer of Apollo, explained APIs best. "Think of Reddit having a bouncer, and since day one, that bouncer has been friendly, where if you ask "Hey, can you list out the comments for me for post X?" the bouncer would happily respond with what you requested, provided you didn't ask so often that it was silly. That's the Reddit API: I ask Reddit/the bouncer for some data, and it provides it so I can display it in my app for users. The proposed changes mean the bouncer will still exist, but now ask a huge amount per question."

On June 1st, Reddit revealed new API pricing, which essentially priced out third-party applications with a ridiculous increase in charges that were never going to be achievable for these developers. 

Selig posted on r/apolloapp with a detailed explanation of what was going on and his discussions directly with Reddit and its CEO, Steve Huffman. Selig explained that Reddit was increasing the cost of API requests, which would make running his application cost around $20 million a year.

Apollo for Reddit iPad app screenshots

(Image credit: Christian Selig)

Reddit responded to that post by claiming falsities in Selig's rhetoric, and Hoffman accused Selig of an attempt at blackmail. But, it turned out Selig had been recording every conversation, as it's legal to do so where he lives in Canada. The story then led to Hoffman doing an AMA (Ask Me Anything), where he stuck to his narrative and highlighted that the relationship between Reddit and Apollo, the most popular third-party Reddit app was well and truly severed.

Last week, Selig announced that Apollo would be shutting down on June 30th due to the changes.

This leads us to today (June 12), where over 3000 of the most popular subreddits on the platform, including r/apple and r/iphone have taken a stand - going dark for 48 hours to prevent the new pricing.

“As the subreddit blackout begins, I wanted to say thank you from the bottom of my heart to the Reddit community and everyone standing up. Let’s hope Reddit listens,” Selig tweeted on Monday.

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John-Anthony Disotto
How To Editor

John-Anthony Disotto is the How To Editor of iMore, ensuring you can get the most from your Apple products and helping fix things when your technology isn’t behaving itself.

Living in Scotland, where he worked for Apple as a technician focused on iOS and iPhone repairs at the Genius Bar, John-Anthony has used the Apple ecosystem for over a decade and prides himself in his ability to complete his Apple Watch activity rings.

John-Anthony has previously worked in editorial for collectable TCG websites and graduated from The University of Strathclyde where he won the Scottish Student Journalism Award for Website of the Year as Editor-in-Chief of his university paper. He is also an avid film geek, having previously written film reviews and received the Edinburgh International Film Festival Student Critics award in 2019. 

John-Anthony also loves to tinker with other non-Apple technology and enjoys playing around with game emulation and Linux on his Steam Deck.

In his spare time, John-Anthony can be found watching any sport under the sun from football to darts, taking the term “Lego house” far too literally as he runs out of space to display any more plastic bricks, or chilling on the couch with his French Bulldog, Kermit. 

  • phlamethrowre
    Reddit is a dumpster fire anyway.
    Reply
  • EdwinG
    My favourite part of the article is this:
    Reddit responded to that post by claiming falsities in Selig's rhetoric, and Hoffman accused Selig of an attempt at blackmail. But, it turned out Selig had been recording every conversation, as it's legal to do so where he lives in Canada.

    This is true. And it makes me want to eat some popcorn while this entire situation plays out.

    He is indeed allowed to record the call, as an active participant to the call.

    Canadian businesses are expected, under privacy regulations, state the purpose of the recording, obtain consent and use the recording solely for that purpose.

    I never had a Reddit account, nor do I use it regularly.
    Reply
  • Annie_M
    I periodically go onto Reddit for information of one sort or another. For example, my CPAP machine wasn't uploading data onto the App. This has been going on for several days. On a whim, I went onto Reddit this morning and searched for the name of my machine's manufacturer. And BAM! There were dozens and dozens of posts from people who were experiencing the same outage. It made me feel better that it just wasn't me. After determining this, I surfed around Reddit for a while, and I agree with phlamethrowre that Reddit can be a dumpster fire at times!
    Reply
  • Ledsteplin
    I see a lot of quotes from Reddit while searching online, but never visit or use the site. When I first checked it out, I found it difficult to navigate. Never went back.
    Reply