Are you a Reddit user? Google’s about to feed all your posts to a hungry AI, and there’s nothing you can do about it

Google and Reddit have announced a huge content licensing deal, reportedly worth a whopping $ 60 million – but Reddit users are pissed.

Why, you might ask? Well, the deal involves Google using content posted by users on Reddit to train its AI models, chiefly its newly launched Google Gemini AI suite. It makes sense; Reddit contains a wealth of information and users typically talk colloquially, which Google is probably hoping will make for a more intelligent and more conversational AI service. However, this also essentially means that anything you post on Reddit now becomes fuel for the AI engine, something many users are taking umbrage at.

While the very first thing that came to mind was MIT’s insane Reddit-trained ‘psychopath AI’ from years ago, it’s fair to say that AI model training has come a long way since then – so hooking it up to Reddit hopefully won’t turn Gemini into a raving lunatic.

The deal, announced yesterday by Reddit in a blog post, will have other benefits as well: since many people specifically append ‘reddit’ to their search queries when looking for the answer to a question, Google aims to make getting to the relevant content on Reddit easier. Reddit plans to use Google’s Vertex AI to improve its own internal site search functionality, too, so Reddit users will enjoy a boost to the user experience – rather than getting absolutely nothing in return for their training data. 

Do Redditors deserve a cut of that $ 60 million?

A lot of Reddit users have been complaining about the deal in various threads on the site, for a wide variety of reasons. Some users have privacy worries, some voiced concerns about the quality of output from an AI trained on Reddit content (which, let’s be honest, can get pretty toxic), and others simply don’t want their posts ‘stolen’ to train an AI.

Unfortunately for any unhappy Redditors, the site’s Terms of Service do mean that Reddit can (within reason) do whatever it wants with your posts and comments. Calling the content ‘stolen’ is inaccurate: if you’re a Reddit user, you’re the product, and Reddit is the one selling. 

Personally, I’m glad to see a company actually getting paid for providing AI training data, unlike the legal grey-area dodginess of previous chatbots and AI art tools that were trained on data scraped from the internet for free without user consent. By agreeing to the Reddit TOS, you’re essentially consenting to your data being used for this.

A person introduces Google Gemini next to text saying it is

Google Gemini could stand to benefit hugely from the training data produced by this content use deal. (Image credit: Google)

Some users are positively incensed by this though, claiming that if they’re the ones making the content, surely they should be entitled to a slice of the AI pie. I’m going to hand out some tough love here: that’s a ridiculous and naive argument. Do these people believe they deserve a cut of ad revenue too, since they made a hit post that drew thousands of people to Reddit? This isn’t the same as AI creators quietly nabbing work from independent artists on Twitter.

At the end of the day, you’re never going to please everyone. If this deal has actual potential to improve not just Google Gemini, but Google Search in general (as well as Reddit’s site search), then the benefits arguably outweigh the costs – although I do think Reddit has a moral obligation to ensure that all of its users are fully informed about the use of their data. 

A few paragraphs in the TOS aren’t enough, guys: you know full well nobody reads those.

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The end of Reddit? Here’s why most of the site is down – and what happens next

If you've been finding Reddit to be a little quieter than usual today, there's a very good reason for that – most of the site's Subreddit communities have just gone dark in protest against the site's controversial charges for third-party app developers.

The blackout, which is scheduled to last for 48 hours from Monday, June 11, but could last longer, has seen 87% of Reddit's subreddits – including most of its biggest ones – go down (according to the useful Reddit blackout tracker).

This has been possible because Reddit relies on a vast army of volunteer moderators who keep discussions on topic and remove comments – but can also make subreddits private, or effectively take them 'dark'.

On Friday, June 9, Reddit chief executive Steve Huffman responded to the blackout plans by stating that the site “needs to be a self-sustaining business” and that “we respect when you and your communities take action to highlight the things you need, including, at times, going private”.

Yet the blackout could lead to something of a stand-off. Four of the biggest third-party apps for browsing Reddit – Apollo, Reddit is Fun, ReddPlanet, and Sync – have all said that they will be shutting down due to the cost of Reddit's new API (application programming interface) pricing. Apollo developer Christian Selig has said it could cost him $ 20 million  (around £15.9m / AU$ 29.5m) a year to keep the app running.

So what happens next? And when are you going to be able to get your fix of r/funny, r/mildlyinteresting, and r/catswithjobs again? Here's all the latest news about the self-styled “front page of the internet”.

Reddit blackout: why is this happening?

Back in April, Reddit announced that it would start charging developers for access to its API. This API has allowed developers to build popular, alternative smartphones apps like Apollo, which they did well before Reddit introduced its own official app in 2016.

Those charges are due to come into play from June 19, which is why many third-party apps – including Apollo and Reddit is Fun – have announced that they'll no longer be available.

While Reddit hasn't officially revealed its new API pricing details, some developers have lifted the lid on the potential costs. In a post on r/apolloapp, the developer Christian Selig said that based on the “7 billion requests” (or times a user has triggered a need for API access) it would cost him $ 1.7 million (around £1.35m / AU$ 2.51m) per month.

A laptop showing a message from the Reddit r/funny subreddit saying that it's gone private due to the blackout

(Image credit: Future)

Although Selig stated that he is “deeply disappointed in this price”, particularly as it has echoes of a similar policy by Twitter that he says was “publicly ridiculed”, Reddit has denied that it has priced out developers of all third-party apps. 

We've asked Reddit for official comment and will update this story when we hear back, but representatives told the BBC that “expansive access to data has impact and costs involved” and that it spends “millions of dollars on hosting fees”. 

Reddit added that Apollo is “notably less efficient than other third-party apps” and that “the vast majority of API users will not have to pay for access”. According to the site, “the Reddit Data API is free to use within the published rate limits so long as apps are not monetized”.

But the issue is that existing apps like Apollo aren't really feasible as entirely free propositions, given the work involved, which is why the most popular third-party apps have all stated that they'll be unable to continue.

Reddit blackout: what happens next?

The blackout is seriously damaging for Reddit's management, both in terms of reputation and revenue – and it isn't yet clear exactly how the saga is going to conclude.

Some are hopeful that Reddit will have a change of heart and at least compromise on its new API pricing. In another post on r/apolloapp on the eve of the blackout, Christian Selig states “I really hope Reddit listens” and that “I think showing humanity through apologizing for and recognizing that this process was handled poorly, and concrete promises to give developers more time, would go a long way to making people feel heard and instilling community confidence”.

Reddit application icon on Apple iPhone X smartphone screen close-up. Reddit app icon. Reddit is an online social media network.

(Image credit: BigTunaOnline via Shutterstock)

In r/Save3rdPartyApps thread announcing the protest, most subreddits stated that their subreddit communities would go private for 48 hours in protest of the new API charges. But if Reddit doesn't back down or at least compromise, it's possible that the blackout could continue for longer than that. 

We've asked Reddit for official comment on what it's doing to resolve the protests and will update this article when we hear back.

Reddit blackout: why not just use the official app?

While it'd be incredibly sad to see the end of third-party apps like Apollo, the official Reddit app would obviously live on if there's no compromise – so why couldn't fans simply switch to that?

Aside from the obvious annoyance that it'd be a forced change, there are lots of reasons why fans prefer third-party apps. One of the big ones is that the likes of Apollo help preserve a traditional Reddit experience, rather than the more image-led one that Reddit's moving towards. 

Also, apps like Apollo are more customizable than the official Reddit app, often offer an ad-free experience, and harken back to the days of the Alien Blue app, which disappeared when the official Reddit app landed in 2026.

TechRadar's Managing Editor for Entertainment, Matthew Bolton, is an Apollo fan and explains: “I only use Apollo for Reddit because it cuts back the chaos. I like to browse particular subreddits that have good communities; I don’t want to be spammed with all the stuff that the algorithm has flagged as controversial in a desperate attempt to get me to engage,” he says. 

“I want to scroll through the things I like the most without the ads,” he adds. “The Reddit app wants me to think of it like a social network, but I want to use it like a combination of Flipboard and an old-school forum – and that’s exactly what I do with Apollo. The official app is like trying to read a magazine while people keep slipping flyers about their pet views or irrelevant news between the pages.”

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Reddit update apes TikTok to show you things you’ve not subscribed to

Reddit has released an update to its mobile app for iPhone, iPad, and Android devices that adds a Discover tab, allowing you to find new content and subreddits that you've not come across before, similar to TikTok's 'For You' tab.

The platform is a place of many communities that can apply to many franchises, products, and brands. Its users, or Redditors as the company calls them, usually subscribe to these, which are called subreddits.

But across the site and the app, you would usually find new categories and topics by the algorithm showcasing trending content on the main page, or by searching for something manually.

However, Reddit is aware that there are better ways for its Redditors to discover new content thanks to this update, available for iOS and Android.

Analysis: About time, Reddit

It can be difficult to find new content on Reddit, compared to other social media apps such as TikTok and Instagram.

While the website had a design refresh 2018, it didn't go far enough when making it clear how you could navigate subreddits, or being accessible for new users.

With its app for iOS and Android, Reddit feels much better to navigate thanks to its different design compared to the website. But Apollo, a third-party app does the same function with an even better interface.

The new Discover feature is going to help close the gap for Reddit against Apollo here, but the next step should be how this can work for its website, which arguably still houses a design that's from the late nineties.

If it can attempt another redesign of its site that makes it easier to navigate to new users, alongside making existing content look more appealing, Reddit may appeal to an even bigger userbase than it has now.

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