Reddit pulls back 'chatrooms' within a day of launch
Yesterday, Reddit surprised the world by launching a 'chatroom' feature for some 16,000 subreddits. The goal of the capability, according to the company, was to help people sharing interests connect and converse in randomized group chats. Now, just a day after the launch, the communication tool has been pulled back from the discussion service, in its entirety. Here's why.
When Reddit announced the chatroom feature, it said users spending their lockdown commenting on different subreddits will be able to use it to find members willing to talk about the same things as they do. "People all around the world are looking for others to talk to," the company said, noting that the new tool "makes it easier" to do that.
Within hours after Reddit's announcement, several users and moderators, who were apparently surprised by the decision, started flooding the announcement post with comments expressing their frustration and confusion. Some moderators claimed that the randomized chats could make community members, including vulnerable ones, victims of online abuse, while others raised alarms over the possibility of scams, frauds.
Making the case worse, a bug surfaced in the implementation of the feature and made it available on more than intended subreddits. The 'Start Chatting' button appeared in all subreddits, although Alex Le, Reddit's Vice President of Product and Community, said it did nothing when tapped or clicked. "Your users could never enter chat...even in the rare case they saw the button," he added.
In light of all the issues and concerns, Reddit promptly acknowledged that it made 'several errors' in rolling out the functionality and is, therefore, pulling chatrooms back. "We are actively fixing this now," Le said while clarifying that "the feature is being rolled back in a matter of a few hours and the button will be removed."
Chatrooms are gone for now, and there is no clarity on the possibility of their future availability. Reddit has said that it will assess the "rollout plan and evolve the product to meet the needs of our community." "We will seek community input, collect additional feedback, and build an experience that adds value and supports our communities," it added.