Community boards on one of the largest social media networks have gone dark today, as Reddit boards protest new policies on data and third-party apps, which had disabled tools like Apollo. That includes r/synthesizers and other popular music and motion boards.

Visitors to that subreddit are greeted with an announcement saying the board is now private.

As readers note, the issue with this particular form of protest is that not all users may be happy with the decision. That creates a lose/lose situation – having just lost apps like Apollo, users now find swaths of the site “broken” by its own mods. I’ve seen mixed reviews; some support the decision while others do not.

There is widespread participation, however – over 8,000 subreddits, listed here:

The situation has made large mainstream news – as in, here’s a refresher on what the heck is going on coming from CNN’s Brian Fung (who was a journalist with a deep resume covering these kinds of changes, including a long stint at The Washington Post):

Thousands of Reddit communities go dark to protest company’s controversial new policy

And more of this kind of friction is coming, with Reddit looking to go public:

Monday’s protests reflect widespread outrage over a Reddit plan to charge millions of dollars in fees for some third-party apps to continue accessing the platform. The plan has already forced several of Reddit’s top app-makers to announce they are shutting down because they cannot afford the new costs, which are set to begin as soon as next month.

The confrontation between Reddit’s corporate management and its users and developers marks a turning point for the platform as it reportedly looks to go public later this year. For years, Reddit users could browse posts, write comments and share pictures and video on Reddit from third-party apps.

The Verge is running live updates; the blackouts are even triggering crashes.

It seems an indication of a larger breakdown of large consolidated social media sites; Elon Musk’s Twitter recently attracted similar frustration as APIs were shut down or added fees. Some changes even broke Twitter’s own tools (like changes to microtransactions).

To play devil’s advocate here, maybe the most intriguing element of this is that Reddit also plans to charge AI companies. That could be the first sign of some firewalls between user-generated content and runaway AI ingestion. Breaking apps is incredibly unfriendly to users. But I could imagine scenarios where stopping AI from cribbing notes off your voluntarily produced posts could be something users want. (Reading the Verge reporting, it’s also clear many users lost trust in Reddit management as they appeared to bully and gaslight developers.)

I’m curious to hear from Reddit users about this change, and where you see the future of these kinds of communities – whether Reddit or elsewhere.