The protest against Reddit's API changes continue, with hackers demanding API cost changes as part of a ransom demand, while subreddits tap the power of John Oliver and Tim Cook.
Reddit's management is currently under fire from users over a decision to make developers of apps pay to access the API. The decision, which will make it prohibitive for third-party app developers to continue using the API, has been met with scorn by the Internet at large, and has affected the site in a few ways, including one unexpected source.
In February, Reddit admitted to being the victim of hacking, after an employee fell victim to phishing. The breach of Reddit's systems saw approximately 80 gigabytes of compressed data seized by the BlackCat ransomware gang, reports BleepingCopputer.
In emails to Reddit on April 13th and June 16th, the gang demanded $4.5 million for the data to be deleted, inclding an offer that the group would gladly wait for the expected IPO for the site in the first email. In the second, the group made threats to leak the data if the ransom is unpaid.
Seemingly capitalizing on sentiment for the site, BlackCat also demanded as part of the updated ransom for Reddit to roll back the API charges.
The demand is the latest in a series of actions taken against Reddit over its API charges, that would effectively kill off third-party Reddit apps due to their size. In one example, popular app Apollo will be shutting down in June due to an estimated annual cost of $20 million for access to the API.
John Oliver, Tim Cook, and angry mods
Coinciding with the hacker demand, some of the popular subreddits who took part in a "going dark" protest for up to 48 hours are continuing their civil disobedience against Reddit's management. Though some larger subreddits have been coerced into reopening by Reddit's leadership, the protest continues in a different way.
Subreddits including r/Pics and r/Aww decided to follow along with managerial demands to run the subreddits in ways Reddit users want. Cue the creation of polls to determine what users want.
On r/Pics and r/Aww, a poll was held with two options, asking if the subreddits should return to normal or to only allow images of comedian John Oliver "looking sexy" or pictured in "adorable content." Naturally, the votes were a landslide for images of John Oliver, who quickly supplied some source material via Twitter.
Some other subreddits did the same thing but slightly differently. On r/iPhone, a similar poll requested the option for "the Dashing Tim Cook Extravaganza," resulting in a large number of photos and images featuring the Apple CEO.
Apollo vs Reddit
In a Monday post to the Apollo subreddit, the app's developer Christian Selig addressed a series of "continued, provably false statements" fielded by Reddit and its leadership about developers and others who are against the API.
From a June 15 article, the post quotes Huffman as saying "These people who are mad, they're mad because they used to get something for free, and now it's going to be not free. And that free comes at the expense of our other users and our business. That's what this is about. It can't be free."
Selig declares this the "false argument Steve Huffman keeps repeating the most," and insists developers are "very happy to pay." The reasoning is that developers don't have access to many APIs, and that formal relationship would give the opportunity to "create a better API experience with more features available."
Selig adds that developers have an issue with the "unreasonably high pricing that [Reddit] originally claimed would be 'based in reality', as well as the incredibly short 30 days you've given developers from when you announced pricing to when developers start incurring massive charges."
On Reddit's claim that it is "happy to work with those who want to work with us," Selig tersely dismisses it with "No, you are not." Despite offering "numerous suggestions," Reddit failed to respond directly within a week, but allegedly told employees and moderators the developer was "trying to blackmail them."
Other examples of failing to work with developers were also given, including a claim by Huffman that the developer of the app Reddit is Fun "never wanted to talk to us." This was refuted by the developer sharing emails demonstrating he tried giving suggestions to Reddit only to get no response.
The post also includes a transcript of email conversations between Huffman and Selig, and Reddit insisting they are "not trying to be like Twitter/Elon." This was disproved by an interview with NBC earlier in June, where Huffman praised Musk's Twitter management and that the handling was a model that Reddit should follow.