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Reddit Prepares For A Crackdown As Blackout Continues

In an interview with NBC, Reddit CEO Steve Huffman talked about the level of power held by the Mods (Moderators) of the subreddits.
UPDATED AUG 24, 2023
Cover Image Source: Pexels | Brett Jordan
Cover Image Source: Pexels | Brett Jordan

It's been over a week since thousands of subreddits restricted user access to protest against Reddit over its plans to charge for access to its data. The company is going strong and appears in no mood to budge from its stand. The approach was visible in the series of interviews with Reddit CEO and co-founder Steve Huffman.

Huffman defended the company's choice to charge the third party for their API. In an interview with NBC, Huffman talked about the level of power held by the Mods (Moderators) of the subreddits. He also talked about his plans to revise the rules to allow users to vote out moderators of any given subreddits. 

He tagged the current scenario of the subreddit as undemocratic and says that it allows moderators to be removed only by themselves. 

"If you’re a politician or a business owner, you are accountable to your constituents. So a politician needs to be elected, and a business owner can be fired by its shareholders. And I think, on Reddit, the analogy is closer to the landed gentry: The people who get there first get to stay there and pass it down to their descendants, and that is not democratic," he told NBC.


The blackout was meant to last 48 hours only to snowball in the coming week. Thousands of subreddits went private on Monday, to protest the company's decision to start charging for its API. The company rolled out this plan after realizing that it was high time Reddit focused on making money. They first decided to start charging for their APIs after they realized that generative AI companies were scraping content from their platform to build other platforms which were often faster and better. 

“It’s important that Reddit monetize, and most moderators want Reddit to succeed,” said Sarah Gilbert, research manager of Cornell’s Citizens and Technology Lab, as per VOX.

What Is An API?

The Application Programming Interface is the software interface that allows two apps to interact with each other without any hindrances. In simple terms, it means that one can use this software code to make another app based on the same fundamentals. 

Reddit's new pricing policy says that it will be charging for its application programming interface. One prominent example of this is Apollo, which is an iOS app that utilizes Reddit's API and has been doing it for eight years. It's been over a week and several subreddits like, r/aww, r/videos, and r/AskHistorians, remain inaccessible.

It seems like the company has decided to simply wait it out. "The blackouts are not representative of the greater Reddit community,” Huffman tells The Verge

Huffman also said that even some of the moderators are opting out, and "don’t want to be dealing with this … it’s like a protest in a city that goes on too long, and the rest of the citizens of the city would like to go about their lives".


Reddit appears to be preparing for a crackdown, according to CNN. Huffman has already expressed his plans to revise moderator rules as mentioned already. Reddit may soon evaluate the number of subreddits that remain private. The company says that it would create a form of inactivity for which the moderators can be removed. 

"If a moderator team unanimously decides to stop moderating, we will invite new active moderators to keep these spaces open and accessible to everyone," the administrator said. 

As per CNN, Reddit has plans to update the proprietary tools for moderators and has also said that 93% of moderation actions currently happen through the website and native app.