Reddit is blocking logins on mobile for some users, asking them to use the official Reddit app

Martin Brinkmann
Jun 12, 2023

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.

Closing Words

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.

Now You: do you use Reddit?

Article Name
Reddit is blocking logins on mobile for some users, asking them to use the official Reddit app
Reddit runs an experiment on its mobile site currently that prevents logins if a mobile web browser is used.
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  1. Anonymous said on June 12, 2023 at 6:29 pm

    Which userbase will we be able to make fun of once reddit is gone, though? It truly is/was the soy zone, but had a few useful sub-forums.

    1. NA said on June 14, 2023 at 5:23 am

      The insufferable user base is a problem. I’m sure it’s why the executive management is “harvesting the soybeans” because the reality is these plebbit goblins are a net loss, and the API pricing is a middle finger to them. Tumblr was also a cancer that didn’t go away, the goblins just spread out.

  2. Anonymous said on June 12, 2023 at 5:57 pm

    this is all about a reddit ipo

  3. Mystique said on June 12, 2023 at 5:01 pm

    People that are deleting their accounts and scrubbing their comments are probably causing the real damage because everyone did the same thing or even a large portion of big contributors then the entire platform would be meaningless.
    Some people have suggested that Reddit admins could forcibly reopen subs, demote or remove moderators and put puppet moderators in place but I find that very hard to believe on a technical level. While there will always be some people willing to have their chance at power they may not be suitable for the job and deliver that same level of quality.

    I added the below to the other thread early today:

    “Having said that recent events concerning services and sites such as youtube, netflix and imgur (to just name three) shows me that people will likely still stay and do nothing about it and support this kind of stupidity.
    I would like to be proven wrong but time will tell I guess.

    Tildes is also a similar service to reddit but remains invite only and has absolutely no app support at this stage as far as I know.”

    Tildes has been around for a long time now and has not progressed as quickly as would be expected or many would have liked.

    Federated services have still not appealed to the masses in terms of a replacement for similar services but I have always felt the reddit community were a little more progressive and technical however over the years it has become a little more popular and mass appealing so there presents an issue for your general audience to adopt some sort of federated service.

    It’s a real shame things have come to this but it seems unavoidable given what has transpired. There are quite a few subreddits that are planning to go dark for longer and I applaud them. This also gives them time to work as a moderator team to seriously look at and test alternative platforms/services for a potential move if it comes to that.

  4. Some Dude said on June 12, 2023 at 4:10 pm

    They do that even on a desktop PC. If you try to open a direct link to a picture it will open a container with the picture inside, and a button to download the Reddit Mobile App.

  5. Lemegeton said on June 12, 2023 at 3:37 pm

    “While it is understandable that a service may want compensation for access to its data”

    This is not their data. It’s user data.
    And it has nothing to do with compensating access to that data: they show ads next to that user’s data and make millions from it (and want to make even more). If they’re profitable – they’ve already compensated themselves for everything with this advertising (with money from advertisers) and made a profit on top, too.

    “Revenue in 2021 is $350 million”.

    1. NA said on June 14, 2023 at 5:19 am

      The latest revenue is over $500 million. What really matters is net revenue. I couldn’t find anything for that. Did you find net profit margins?

  6. davey said on June 12, 2023 at 2:37 pm

    Ever get the feeling more and more over time that you’re getting owned?

  7. ECJ said on June 12, 2023 at 1:59 pm

    Never trust any organisation headquartered in Silicon Valley, as it’s always only a matter of time before they show who they really are. Scumbags.

    Also, there really needs to be action to prevent companies locking people into apps when they should be using the open web. The future cannot be users needing to install hundreds of apps, all taking up storage space, all needing to each continuously update, all having different UIs. It’s a ridiculous concept that is a threat to the open web.

  8. effreddit said on June 12, 2023 at 10:31 am

    spez can gargle my nuts

  9. Tom said on June 12, 2023 at 9:37 am

    The official reddit apps sucks. I just left a review telling them as much before uninstalling it and if you feel the same way you should too. From the looks of it many people seem to agree as there are lots of bad reviews.

    It’s sad to see them doubling down like this, reddit is going downhill fast. I have been a user since almost the beginning, it’s sad to see them treat their users this way.

    1. bwat47 said on June 13, 2023 at 12:15 am

      Yeah I used RIF for many years, and never even bothered trying the official app because RIF was basically perfect.

      I just gave it a try, and holy crap what a bloated dumpster fire of an app :/. I really love the autoplaying video ads as you scroll (/sarcasm)

  10. Stars said on June 12, 2023 at 9:00 am

    For Android: Using Firefox Nightly (to install additional add-ons) and changing the useragent to a to a desktop browser with a suitable addon should solve that right away. That’s at least what I do for viewing some obnoxious sites that try to force me onto their apps (that or creating custom rules in ublock origin for the sites it works well for).
    Of course only as long as they don’t start looking for mobile typical screen resolutions but I doubt most users will start jumping through that many hoops anyway, but maybe activating resist fingerprinting (in Firefox) helps in that regard? (Not checked yet.)

    1. Anonymous said on June 12, 2023 at 5:33 pm

      Personally I use hBlock on Linux to create a hosts file from many sources. After that I just copy it to Android on a rooted phone, and no ads, with the exception of any Google owned products like Youtube. You can also use various DNS blockers as well which are easier to set up.

  11. Peter said on June 12, 2023 at 8:04 am

    Ads. The modern age midas touch, that ruin the credibility and usability of anything it touches. No consumer truly watches/care for ads. Not even big corps think ads work (its about market visability). Ads ruined cable tv, magazines and now it’s ruining internet and creativity and yet this abomination is allowed to continiue. Ads is not the root of everything bad. Its the very soil required by the bad to be able to grow at all. The only way to kill adtech is by rejecting it and paying the price of reduced comfortability, a very steep price to pay for most people that are content with a satisfishing experience.

  12. Anonymous said on June 12, 2023 at 7:44 am

    reddit has been in a downward spiral for a decade. The best thing that could happen is for people to leave, unfortunately they won’t.

  13. Iron Heart said on June 12, 2023 at 7:17 am

    I thought the deadline they announced for API charges was July 1st? Wow, what a petty move in response to the protest. One should delete the account and the official Reddit app itself instead of caving to this.

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