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Reddit Blackout: users protest as Apollo forced to shut down

Social media website Reddit, known as “the front page of the internet”, might never be the same again.

Starting today (June 12, 2023), thousands of Reddit communities are “going dark” to protest controversial policy changes from Reddit’s top brass. That means no activity on some of the biggest subreddits, with some promising to shut down indefinitely if Reddit refuses to listen.

But what has Reddit done to spark such outrage from users? Well, starting June 30, Reddit has decided to start charging developers massive fees to access its API, essentially forcing third-party apps including Apollo to shut down at the end of the month. Reddit’s moderators – unpaid volunteers who keep its “subreddits” in check – have widely criticized the move, partly because many of them rely on the superior modding features of third-party apps.

Under the new rules, Apollo – one of our favorite apps, and one consistently praised by Apple – would have to pay Reddit roughly $20 million each year to keep running. Apollo’s solo developer, Christian Selig, posted a detailed account of his communications with Reddit, worth a read if you want to know more about the situation. There’s plenty of drama, including false allegations of blackmail during a catastrophic “ask me anything” post from Reddit’s CEO.

But what does that mean for casual Reddit enjoyers on iPhone? Well, unless we see a huge U-turn in response to the protest, it means you’ll soon be stuck with the official Reddit app for iOS, which is somewhat lacking in features and bursting with ads. But Reddit’s executives could be right that most readers don’t care about behind-the-scenes drama and power features, they just like the communities and the content. And they said that, a version of the website dedicated to Reddit’s original, simplistic layout, will stick around for the foreseeable future. You could always add it to your home screen in lieu of the main app.

However, it remains to be seen how these changes will play out in a wider sense. Reddit’s content is created and maintained by users, and already some of the most active are already discussing deleting their accounts and migrating to alternative platforms. The site feels angry right now, and it could lose some of its biggest subreddits including r/funny, r/aww, and r/videos. So even if you’re content with the official app, you might find both the quality and quantity of posts take a dive in the near future. Or maybe this will all be forgotten in a month or two? Only time will tell, but we’ll be sad to see Apollo go.