Reddit suffers MASSIVE outage ahead of planned API changes; Thousands of subreddits go dark | Tech News

Reddit suffers MASSIVE outage ahead of planned API changes; Thousands of subreddits go dark

Reddit has suffered a massive global outage as thousands of subreddits go private to protest the company’s planned API changes. Check the details.

| Updated on: Jun 13 2023, 12:37 IST
As thousands of subreddits move towards going private, Reddit suffers a massive outage. (REUTERS)
As thousands of subreddits move towards going private, Reddit suffers a massive outage. (REUTERS)

On Monday, June 12, the popular discussion forum Reddit suffered a massive global outage. As many as 45,000 users reported issues accessing the website and different subreddits, as per Downdetector, the online outage monitor. The outage occurred the same day when thousands of subreddits planned to protest the company's new API pricing changes by going private. According to a report, subreddits going dark was in part the reason behind the company suffering the outage. The subreddits are expected to protest till June 14th.

A Reddit spokesperson told The Verge, “A significant number of subreddits shifting to private caused some expected stability issues, and we've been working on resolving the anticipated issue”. The servers began working normally after a couple of hours, however many major subreddits continue to be unavailable to people.

What are subreddits?

Reddit is a modern forum-based platform where different communities are called subreddits. Subreddits cater to different interests, hobbies, and topics that members can join, post and comment on. These subreddits are managed by moderators who are members that have either begun the community or have been appointed by the creator to manage posts and enforce rules. Some of the major subreddits have as many as 30-40 million members.

Reddit can be accessed either through the official website and app or through many third-party apps that use the Reddit API to build their own user interface and offer additional features for a smoother experience.

Reddit's new API model

In April, Reddit announced changes to its API model to put limits on the number of API requests made by a third-party client. It also updated the pricing terms for API requests. This move was initially seen as a way for the company to make the developers pay that use their AI platforms to take Reddit's content to answer user queries.

Grim news for third-party apps

However, two weeks ago, Christian Selig, a developer of Apollo, a third-party Reddit app for iOS, shared a post, where he revealed that the platform was charging roughly $12,000 per 50 million requests. Selig also explained that with about 7 billion API requests (Apollo's stats from the previous month), it would have to pay Reddit $1.7 million per month or $20 million per year just to continue operating.

“While Reddit has been communicative and civil throughout this process with half a dozen phone calls back and forth that I thought went really well, I don't see how this pricing is anything based in reality or remotely reasonable. I hope it goes without saying that I don't have that kind of money or would even know how to charge it to a credit card,” Selig wrote in the post.

Apollo is not the only one affected by this. Many third-party apps believe they would be put in a similar situation. Popular Android-based app Reddit Is Fun has also announced that the app would stop functioning from June 30 onwards. Apollo and Naharwal, another third-party app, have also given similar timelines before these apps are taken offline.

Why the protest by subreddits?

A huge number of Reddit users, including moderators of many major subreddits, use these apps to post and manage their communities, and this move has not gone well with them. Furious Redditors have now decided to take their subreddits private as a way to protest against the new pricing policy.

These subreddits include some of the biggest communities such as r/funny, r/gaming, r/gadgets, and r/todayilearned. The planned protest was announced to be for a 48-hour period and will end on June 14.

Reddit unlikely to budge

On Friday, Reddit CEO Steve Huffman hosted an AMA (ask me anything) where he said, “Reddit needs to be a self-sustaining business, and to do that, we can no longer subsidize commercial entities that require large-scale data use”.

Answering a user's query that whether Reddit would consider delaying the API pricing implementation by 90 days, Huffman said, “We're continuing to work with folks who want to work with us. For what it's worth, this includes many of the apps that haven't been taking the spotlight this week”.

However, it appears that Reddit will not be budging on its pricing plans for now.

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First Published Date: 13 Jun, 12:34 IST