On Monday, the NBA and NFL subreddits, two of the largest communities on Reddit, went private along with thousands of other subreddits in protest of a new Reddit policy. Going "private" on the website means nobody can see the subreddit, so it is impossible to browse, post, or comment. In 2020, the two subreddits shut down in a similar manner as part of another protest against Reddit. Here's what you see if you try to log onto reddit.com/r/nba.
Why did they do this? Reddit's new API policies. In layman's terms, Reddit recently announced some changes that would effectively eliminate third-party applications, forcing anybody who wants to use the site on mobile to download the official Reddit app. This is making people upset for two reasons. One, the official Reddit app is very bad in terms of accessibility and disabled users are hard-pressed to use it, while the third-party apps offer much better assistance. Two, those third-party applications offer significantly better moderation tools than the official app. That's important because the mods on all subreddits are volunteers and are universally displeased that Reddit is making their lives harder in pursuit of additional revenue. The new policies are slated to begin on July 1, so this week was picked for the protest.
How long will it last? As you can see for r/NBA, the protest is indefinite. For r/NFL, the protest is planned to last until Wednesday.. Outside of those two, the timing differs from subreddit to subreddit. Some are only shutting down for today. Others are shut down indefinitely.
Will it make a difference? Who knows. The last protest worked, but all that called for was specific language banning racism and hate speech from the platform so it wasn't exactly a big ask. This is demanding Reddit go back on a policy change that was made specifically to maximize the company's revenue which is all the decision-makers involved care about.
Only time will tell. In the meantime, those who would like to discuss tonight's NBA Finals game or NFL minicamps must go elsewhere.