Reddit Message Boards Stay Dark In Ongoing Protests – Except For Images Of John Oliver

Reddit communities, including some of its biggest, clicked into private mode June 12, meaning they’re not accessible to the broader public or to members, even in some cases. The unrest sparked by new app-developer fees continues. But there’s been a twist, as images of John Oliver now populate the platform.

A number of big message boards including giant r/pics, homed in on the host of HBO’s Last Week Tonight, and moderators currently are allowing only photos of the multiple Emmy winner on their so-called subreddits. Oliver’s show went dark with the WGA strike that started May 2. He ran with Reddit’s latest protest.

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“Dear Reddit, excellent work. Attn: r/pics, have at it…” he tweeted, firing off images of himself – as a wizard, in pajamas, in a green body stocking, holding a giant fork.

That’s after the r/pics message board began running “a friendly reminder” – “that r/Pics now features only images of John Oliver looking sexy. A recent poll – hosted in response to Reddit’s stated preference that everyday users have more direct control over their communities – showed overwhelming support for the change, which has therefore been enacted.”

“If your post features John Oliver looking sexy, you may ignore this message.”

Other subreddits featuring images of Oliver exclusively include r/gifs and r/aww.

When the protests hit the site last Monday, users reported widespread problems loading content. Dozens of the thousands of communities in blackout mode had over a million subscribers — from r/videos and r/reactiongifs to r/earthporn. Some are back up since then, but many still aren’t. Some subreddits that depend on third parties may permanently shutter. In other cases, moderators insist they can’t do what they need with just the tools available through the official Reddit app. Reddit plans to start charging fees to third-party developers.

Reddit CEO and co-founder Steve Huffman said in a (Reddit) post that “there’s been a lot of confusion” over the changes, which were announced in April. They entail updating access to the API (application programmin interfaces) “including premium access for third parties who require additional capabilities and higher usage limits. Reddit needs to be a self-sustaining business, and to do that, we can no longer subsidize commercial entities that require large-scale data use,” he said.

Non-commercial, accessibility-focused apps and tools will continue to have free access under the new rules that are set to go into effect in July.

Separately, there was also angst over Reddit policy changes regarding explicit content as the company said it would start to “limit access to mature content via our Data API as part of an ongoing effort to provide guardrails to how explicit content and communities on Reddit are discovered and viewed.”

“P.S. isn’t going anywhere, and explicit content is still allowed on Reddit as long as it abides by our content policy,” Huffman said at the bottom of his post.

The company had no comment today on the John Oliver photo fest.

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