When more than 8,000 subreddits went dark for 48 hours earlier this week to protest Reddit’s forthcoming API changes, there were signs the action had an immediate effect on the platform. On the morning of the first day of the protest, Reddit suffered a “major outage” affecting its desktop and mobile websites, as well as mobile apps. Days later, company CEO Steve Huffman went on a media offensive where he attempted to cast aggrieved users and moderators, many of whom give countless hours of their free time to make Reddit the vibrant platform it is today, as unreasonable. “These people who are mad, they’re mad because they used to get something for free, and now it’s going to be not free,” he said in an interview with The Verge.
But beyond those signs, it was hard to tell how much of a practical effect the protest had on the website’s traffic. Now we have a better idea. According to data provided to Engadget by internet analytics firm Similarweb, the impact was small but noticeable. On the day before the blackout began on June 12th, Similarweb logged more than 57 million daily visits to Reddit across desktop and mobile web clients. By the end of the first day of the protest, daily visits were below 55 million. Then, at the end of June 13th, Similarweb recorded fewer than 53 million daily visits to Reddit. Compared to the website’s average daily volume over the past month, the 52,121,649 visits Reddit saw on June 13th represented a 6.6 percent drop.
Over that same time period, Similarweb recorded a more dramatic decrease in the amount of time Reddit users were spending on the platform. The day before the protest began, an average session on the website was about eight minutes and 31 seconds long. A day later, that metric fell to seven minutes and 17 seconds, or the lowest that stat has been in the past three years. Reddit did not immediately respond to Engadget’s comment request.
Looking forward, a temporary drop in daily traffic is unlikely to affect Reddit’s near-term prospects. But as many subreddits continue to protest the company’s plans and its leadership contemplates policy changes that could change its relationship with moderators, the platform could see a slow but gradual decline in daily active users. That’s unlikely to bode well for Reddit ahead of its planned IPO and beyond.