Reddit takes control of popular subreddit that protested API changes

An admin account is in sole charge of r/malefashionadvice, which has 5.4 million subscribers.

Robert Galbraith / Reuters

As it promised, Reddit has been taking over control of subreddits that shut down to protest changes to the platform's API. The admin account u/ModCodeofConduct has taken sole charge of r/malefashionadvice, a community with more than 5.4 million subscribers.

The subreddit joined thousands of others in closing shop in mid-June to show opposition to the new API rules. Other subreddits started allowing users to post porn in protest.

Third-party developers used the API to build thousands of apps that hook into Reddit. Many of their apps helped with moderation or accessibility. However, Reddit decided to start charging for the formerly free API, forcing the developers of many popular apps to abandon their projects. A transcription community also closed over a "lack of trust" in the platform.

Reddit saw a sizable drop in traffic after the protest started, according to third-party data. The company warned moderators that kept their subreddits private or in read-only mode that it would replace them.

One of the former r/malefashionadvice mods told The Verge that Reddit removed their privileges on Thursday, something they'd been expecting to happen. In a pinned post, u/ModCodeofConduct sought volunteers to take over the subreddit. The admin account has posted similar messages on other subreddits for which it's the only current moderator, including r/AccidentalRenaissance (which has more than 925,000 subscribers) and r/ShittyLifeProTips (1.7 million subscribers).

"We are, and have been, enforcing the moderator Code of Conduct. This is not new because of the protests," a Reddit spokesperson told Engadget. Under its guidelines, Reddit considers a public community that has indefinitely been made private to be "abandoned," and it seeks "new mods who want to reinvigorate it." The spokesperson added that "we have a practice of reactivating private, high-subscriber communities that are being 'camped' on."

Meanwhile, Reddit this week revived r/place, a communal art project that allows each user to place a single pixel onto a large mosaic once every few minutes. Unsurprisingly, redditors are using it to call out the company and CEO Steve Huffman (aka u/spez). "Never forget what was stolen from you," reads a message on the mosaic that directs viewers to the r/Save3rdPartyApps community.