I have noticed that with each passing year I have fewer social media accounts. On the first of January 2023 I permanently deleted my Twitter account and now I let go of Reddit as well. Both decisions are rooted in a similar issue: questionable ethics and actions of the respective CEO. I do not believe an explanation is in order for me leaving Twitter. Elon Musk’s irresponsible and erratic behaviour has been widely described and discussed on the web. But what about Reddit?
Two months ago Reddit announced changes in the access to their API, an action that bears dire consequences for the third party apps many people used to browse Reddit, like Apollo for iOS or RIF for Android. To cut the long story short: third party apps will have been basically forced to shutdown by the end of June due to gargantuan costs of use of Reddit API starting in July. There is a detailed explanation of the situation posted by Christian Selig, the developer of Apollo and I encourage you to dig deeper into the conversation, to uncover the whole picture of Reddit malevolence.
The main issue that arises both from Twitter and Reddit examples is, the social media as we know them became so goal-oriented that they lost the big picture in the process. The goal, in virtually all cases of commercial/centralised social media is simply to multiply the revenue in perpetuo. And anyone who has even rudimentary knowledge of how the world is working knows that it cannot happen. Profit cannot rise exponentially, even if that’s what investors or owners would expect. And looking for a way to further maximise profit, to monetise the hell out of a social media website and its users can have dreadful consequences. We know what happened to Twitter, and now similar thing is happening to Reddit. Somehow Reddit CEO1 believed that he had a right to own the users, their content and their work, and monetise on that while at the same time taking away their choice of Reddit clients that offered superior experience to both Reddit website and the first party app. Mass protest in the form of many subreddits going dark (i.e. restricting posting or visibility) arose on the 12th of June and lasted for 48 hours, however Reddit admins started to do a whole set of unethical things, including threatening moderators of subreddits that were still protesting after the 14th that they would be removed and a new moderation team would be installed in their place, manually changing subreddits restrictions against the will of the moderators or users, removing or suspending moderation teams and so on. It should be noted that all those actions were approved (or even sanctioned) by the CEO, whose main goal is apparently to show everyone that he is right (despite the fact he really isn’t), even if it’s destroying Reddit in the process.
I have no doubts that once the dust settle there will still be plenty of users on the platform, and most of the top subreddits will have new, pro-Reddit moderation teams. But the Reddit we know is already lost. Many people have already left or will leave Reddit in the very near future, and, what apparently is not yet obvious to the sorry excuse of a CEO, those would be people who actually were creating content on Reddit, people who added value to the website. Because without the creators, the moderators, the people who care about their communities, Reddit is only a shell. And pretty useless one, at that.
A few days before the going dark protests I have already scrambled and removed all my content on Reddit, including posts, comments, conversations. Two days later I have made a GDPR request under Article 15 to obtain all my data and check whether Reddit has truly removed all the informations I ordered them to. Once I confirm there is no content authored by me left on their platform, I’m permanently deleting my account [Update: I have already done it]. I have already removed it from the Social media links sections on the About page. If you want to delete your Reddit account as well, I strongly recommend you delete your content first, as to not give Reddit anything to monetise from for free. Normally even if you delete your account all your content (posts, comments, etc.) are still there, only with
[deleted] placeholder instead of your actual username. That is why it is important to use a tool like Redact first, to overwrite and then delete your content before deleting the account itself.
I’m leaving Reddit without regrets. There is no way I would support an unethical conduct or enable an evil person to hurt online communities by adding one more user to the head count. I hope that Reddit will crash and burn, and people find an alternative that would be more user-friendly. Federated social networks come to mind here, as their fundamental characteristics of being decentralised yet federated make them immune to egregious acts of a single bad actor like Reddit’s CEO. If you are looking for a Reddit replacement, options in the federated social networks include kbin.social, lemmy and many other projects. You can also check alternatives for specific subreddits to find an optimal place to continue your discussion and engagement in certain communities. That is the beauty of open internet: one or even many evil people cannot monopolise your experience, nor force you to use their social media platforms. People will always seek safe and free alternatives. Just remember to be mindful and tread carefully as you discover new places on the internet. Not all communities, websites or servers have the same rules regarding privacy, handling of your data, etc. But this is something we all should have learned by this point.
Whatever your post-Reddit journey will be, I wish you good luck.
I deliberately omit his name here, as he is simply a spoiled pitiful idiot who does not deserve any recognition whatsoever. ↩