- Reddit may block Google and Bing from indexing its posts if it fails to make deals with AI companies.
- An anonymous source told The Washington Post that "Reddit can survive without search."
- The move is part of a larger trend where platforms are fighting to control and monetize their data.
October 21st, 2023: Reddit, the popular online community platform, is reportedly contemplating a significant change that might affect how its content appears on search engines like Google and Bing. This move follows disputes with AI companies over payment for Reddit’s data.
Initially, Reddit seemed to brush off the report by The Washington Post, saying “nothing is changing.” However, the situation has developed in a different direction.
Courtney Geesey-Dorr, a spokesperson for Reddit, initially told tech news outlet The Verge that The Washington Post would correct its story.
Yet, after the Post amended its article, the main change was that Reddit users wouldn’t need to log in to see content. What remains is that if Reddit cannot secure deals with generative AI companies, it may prevent search engines from crawling and indexing its content.
This would make Reddit posts invisible in search engine results.
“Reddit can survive without search,” an anonymous source told The Washington Post.
Tim Rathschmidt, another spokesperson for Reddit, clarified that the company’s initial comment about “nothing is changing” only referred to user logins. He stated, “In terms of crawlers, we don’t have anything to share on that topic at the moment.”
This potential change could affect the user experience for people who use Google to access Reddit. Previously, many Reddit subforums went dark to protest changes in the company’s API pricing.
During that period, users experienced difficulty accessing Reddit content via search, as most links led to private communities.
The core issue stems from Reddit’s attempts to make AI companies pay for using its data. These companies often use this data to train large language models. Reddit CEO Steve Huffman mentioned that they are discussing these changes with AI companies but didn’t go into details.
The Washington Post also highlighted that more than 535 news organizations have opted to block their content from being scraped by AI companies like OpenAI.
This trend isn’t just limited to Reddit. X, previously known as Twitter, has introduced new pricing tiers for its API, citing data scraping issues as a justification for this change.