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Reddit CEO yields to blackouts, urges subreddits to end protest first

This image shows the Reddit app on a smartphone. – Reuters/File

After a 48-hour-long blackout by Reddit communities, also known as subreddits, the social media platform’s CEO Steve Huffman agreed to end the protests, urging protesters to take the first step.

During an interview, Huffman said he plans to institute ‘rules changes that will allow Reddit users to vote for moderators who have monitored protests.’

Subreddits-led protests erupted on Monday as large communities with millions of followers on Reddit closed their doors to their members as well, vowing to take action indefinitely.

The subreddits, paid volunteer moderators, responded to Reddit’s announcement with some demands centered on the platform’s application programming interface (API), accessibility for the visually impaired, and access to content deemed inappropriate for work (NSFW).

Reddit is one of the 20 most popular social platforms founded in 2005.

The changes previously announced by the social media platform will introduce hefty charges for “premium access,” effectively killing popular third-party Reddit apps such as Apollo, which let users browse the site with a customized interface.

Apollo’s sole developer, Christian Selig, of such apps, estimates that Reddit would need to charge $5 per user per month to pay for the new fee.

But Reddit is another cause of conflict between the social network and AI companies such as ChatGPT maker OpenAI, which have used big data from the service to train their systems.

Huffman, who is also the co-founder of Reddit, said the new system would be more democratic and allow a wider group of people to hold moderators accountable.”

According to Reddit’s current policy, moderators may be removed by higher-ranking moderators or by Reddit for inactivity or violation of Reddit-wide rules. They can also remove themselves. He has been in his post for many years.

“If you’re a politician or a business owner, you’re accountable to your constituents,” he said.

One change that’s “really important,” he said, “is making sure that, for example, the protests, now or in the future, are really representative of their communities. And I think starting this week This can happen to many people in the U.S., but it happens less and less as time goes by.”

About 80% of Reddit’s top 5,000 communities have reopened after a two-day content strike on Monday and Tuesday, he said.

But moderators of some of the biggest subreddits — including the most populous, r/funny — have stepped up their protest by remaining inaccessible in “private” mode.

“Our core concerns remain unsatisfied,” protest organizers wrote this week in a post titled “The Fight Continues,” explaining their expansion.

“Reddit has been silent since it started, and internal memos indicate they think they can wait us out.”

“I think most will get there through their natural decision-making process, and so we’re letting it play out,” he said.

Huffman also said Reddit is not profitable, and in Thursday’s interview, he said it has less than $1 billion in annual revenue.

He has no sympathy for competing apps that want to use Reddit’s content while avoiding ads, which are the main source of money used to support the site, he added.

“It costs a lot of money to run an app like Reddit. We support ourselves through advertising. And what we can’t do is subsidize other people’s businesses to run competing apps for free,” he said.

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