Reddit Bounces Back: User Traffic Returns to Normal Amidst Protests

Reddit’s user traffic is bouncing back to normal levels after a brief dip last week during protests aimed at challenging the social media platform. SimilarWeb, an internet traffic provider, reports that user visits and time spent on Reddit have “recovered to near-normal levels” since the start of the protests. It seems that users have either found alternative content or that the previously restricted content has become available again as subreddit moderators reopened some sections.

SimilarWeb shared a spreadsheet illustrating the upward trend, with user visits reaching 56 million on June 18 and 19, compared to 52 million on June 13, the second day of the protest. Furthermore, the average time spent on Reddit now exceeds eight minutes, an increase from 7 minutes and 17 seconds recorded during the initial day of the protest.

Earlier, SimilarWeb had observed a decline in user traffic and time spent on Reddit during the height of the protest. On June 12, over 8,400 subreddits went private for 48 hours, preventing users from accessing them or posting comments. This blackout affected numerous Reddit pages and had an impact on Google search results as well. According to SimilarWeb, the site’s user traffic decreased by around 7%, while time spent dropped by about 16% during this period.

Following the 48-hour blackout, many subreddits pledged to continue their protest by either remaining private or devising new strategies to challenge the platform. Some even permitted the posting of explicit content, aiming to disrupt Reddit’s advertising revenue. However, Reddit took decisive measures to suppress the protests, including issuing threats to subreddits and removing entire teams of volunteer moderators who allowed NSFW (not safe for work) content on their sections.

The protests coincide with Reddit’s plans to charge access to its API (Application Programming Interface), which poses a risk to several third-party apps and tools, including Apollo. The situation was further aggravated when Reddit CEO Steve Huffman initially expressed support for the protests but later backtracked. In an interview with NBC News, Huffman referred to the volunteer moderators behind the protesting subreddits as the “landed gentry” and threatened to impose new rules to remove them.

Despite the crackdown, some subreddits and volunteer moderators continue to protest. According to a tracking service, around 2,600 subreddits remain dark, indicating their ongoing resistance. Additionally, some moderators are exploring alternative forms of protest to annoy Reddit while adhering to the platform’s rules.

As the situation unfolds, Reddit faces the challenge of restoring normalcy and maintaining its user base while dealing with the repercussions of the protests and potential conflicts with volunteer moderators. The outcome of these clashes may shape the future of the platform and its relationship with its user community.