Reddit is blocking logins on mobile for some users, asking them to use the official Reddit app
Some Reddit users have noticed that they can't sign-in to their accounts anymore on mobile, as the option to do so has been removed for them. Reddit has made it difficult in the past for users to access the site on mobile in browsers. The company's main intention is to get users to use the official Reddit application instead.
The experiment goes hand in hand with a major change regarding third-party applications on Reddit. Late last month, Reddit announced new pricing for API access. The API of the service is used by third-party applications and services to display Reddit content to users. This API was free to use up to that point.
While it is understandable that a service may want compensation for access to its data, Reddit appears to have set the pricing exorbitantly high. The developer of the iOS exclusive Apollo app claimed that he would have to pay $20 million per year to Reddit for API access.
The consequence is that many third-party application developers have announced that they are shutting down their Reddit apps on June 30, 2023. A protest movement on Reddit tries to force the hand of the company by locking access to thousands, of popular subreddits on the site for a 48 hour period.
Subreddits are like forums on Reddit. Some popular ones have millions of users and drive a lot of traffic to the site. Reddit's CEO already revealed that Reddit would not make changes to its plans despite thousands of subreddits going dark on the site.
Limiting Mobile Access
Reddit is running an experiment on the site currently that limits mobile access to some users. These users notice that they can no longer sign-in to the site using a mobile browser. Reddit asks them to use the official application on mobile to access the site while signed-in to their account.
Signing-in gives Reddit users access to their history on the site, to bookmarks, and the ability to interact on the site actively. They may post new threads or comments, or communicate with other users directly among other things.
A Reddit administrator confirmed here that the site was running an experiment currently on the site that is limiting access on mobile for some users. They stated: "It looks like you’re part of one of our experiments. The logged-in mobile web experience is currently unavailable for a portion of users. To access the site you can log on via desktop, the mobile apps, or wait for the experiment to conclude."
Some affected users were able to fix the issue by clearing Reddit site data and cookies.
The motivation behind the user unfriendly moves
Reddit is interested in getting users to use its application on mobile. Use of a dedicated mobile app gives the company access to valuable data, more control, and the ability to display advertisement to users.
Third-party applications or mobile browsers allow users to get rid of ads, e.g., by using content blockers, and they limit Reddit's tracking abilities also.
It remains to be seen if Reddit will indeed go ahead with the planned changes regarding API access, or if company and third-party application developers will find a compromise. The going dark movement will likely not be sufficient to convince Reddit, but the participating subreddits could consider extending the period of going dark further.
There is a subreddit for Reddit Alternatives, which users of the site may check out and monitor for potential alternatives. Some of these are picking up lots of users already, but it remains to be seen if that is going to be similar to Twitter users leaving for Mastadon, which appears to have had little impact on Twitter, or bigger than that.
One potential alternative, which has not been mentioned yet in the discussion, is the Usenet.
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