The end of Reddit? Here’s why most of the site is down – and what happens next

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Jun 12, 2023

If you’ve been finding Reddit to be a little quieter than usual today, there’s a very good reason for that – most of the site’s Subreddit communities have just gone dark in protest against the site’s controversial charges for third-party app developers.

The blackout, which is scheduled to last for 48 hours from Monday, June 11, but could last longer, has seen 87% of Reddit’s subreddits – including most of its biggest ones – go down (according to the useful Reddit blackout tracker).

This has been possible because Reddit relies on a vast army of volunteer moderators who keep discussions on topic and remove comments – but can also make subreddits private, or effectively take them ‘dark’.

On Friday, June 9, Reddit chief executive Steve Huffman responded to the blackout plans by stating that the site “needs to be a self-sustaining business” and that “we respect when you and your communities take action to highlight the things you need, including, at times, going private”.

Yet the blackout could lead to something of a stand-off. Four of the biggest third-party apps for browsing Reddit – Apollo, Reddit is Fun, ReddPlanet, and Sync – have all said that they will be shutting down due to the cost of Reddit’s new API (application programming interface) pricing. Apollo developer Christian Selig has said it could cost him $20 million  (around £15.9m / AU$29.5m) a year to keep the app running.

So what happens next? And when are you going to be able to get your fix of r/funny, r/mildlyinteresting, and r/catswithjobs again? Here’s all the latest news about the self-styled “front page of the internet”.

Reddit blackout: why is this happening?

Back in April, Reddit announced that it would start charging developers for access to its API. This API has allowed developers to build popular, alternative smartphones apps like Apollo, which they did well before Reddit introduced its own official app in 2016.

Those charges are due to come into play from June 19, which is why many third-party apps – including Apollo and Reddit is Fun – have announced that they’ll no longer be available.

While Reddit hasn’t officially revealed its new API pricing details, some developers have lifted the lid on the potential costs. In a post on r/apolloapp, the developer Christian Selig said that based on the “7 billion requests” (or times a user has triggered a need for API access) it would cost him $1.7 million (around £1.35m / AU$2.51m) per month.

(Image credit: Future)

Although Selig stated that he is “deeply disappointed in this price”, particularly as it has echoes of a similar policy by Twitter that he says was “publicly ridiculed”, Reddit has denied that it has priced out developers of all third-party apps. 

We’ve asked Reddit for official comment and will update this story when we hear back, but representatives told the BBC that “expansive access to data has impact and costs involved” and that it spends “millions of dollars on hosting fees”. 

Reddit added that Apollo is “notably less efficient than other third-party apps” and that “the vast majority of API users will not have to pay for access”. According to the site, “the Reddit Data API is free to use within the published rate limits so long as apps are not monetized”.

But the issue is that existing apps like Apollo aren’t really feasible as entirely free propositions, given the work involved, which is why the most popular third-party apps have all stated that they’ll be unable to continue.

Reddit blackout: what happens next?

The blackout is seriously damaging for Reddit’s management, both in terms of reputation and revenue – and it isn’t yet clear exactly how the saga is going to conclude.

Some are hopeful that Reddit will have a change of heart and at least compromise on its new API pricing. In another post on r/apolloapp on the eve of the blackout, Christian Selig states “I really hope Reddit listens” and that “I think showing humanity through apologizing for and recognizing that this process was handled poorly, and concrete promises to give developers more time, would go a long way to making people feel heard and instilling community confidence”.

(Image credit: BigTunaOnline via Shutterstock)

In r/Save3rdPartyApps thread announcing the protest, most subreddits stated that their subreddit communities would go private for 48 hours in protest of the new API charges. But if Reddit doesn’t back down or at least compromise, it’s possible that the blackout could continue for longer than that. 

We’ve asked Reddit for official comment on what it’s doing to resolve the protests and will update this article when we hear back.

Reddit blackout: why not just use the official app?

While it’d be incredibly sad to see the end of third-party apps like Apollo, the official Reddit app would obviously live on if there’s no compromise – so why couldn’t fans simply switch to that?

Aside from the obvious annoyance that it’d be a forced change, there are lots of reasons why fans prefer third-party apps. One of the big ones is that the likes of Apollo help preserve a traditional Reddit experience, rather than the more image-led one that Reddit’s moving towards. 

Also, apps like Apollo are more customizable than the official Reddit app, often offer an ad-free experience, and harken back to the days of the Alien Blue app, which disappeared when the official Reddit app landed in 2026.

TechRadar’s Managing Editor for Entertainment, Matthew Bolton, is an Apollo fan and explains: “I only use Apollo for Reddit because it cuts back the chaos. I like to browse particular subreddits that have good communities; I don’t want to be spammed with all the stuff that the algorithm has flagged as controversial in a desperate attempt to get me to engage,” he says. 

“I want to scroll through the things I like the most without the ads,” he adds. “The Reddit app wants me to think of it like a social network, but I want to use it like a combination of Flipboard and an old-school forum – and that’s exactly what I do with Apollo. The official app is like trying to read a magazine while people keep slipping flyers about their pet views or irrelevant news between the pages.”