Reddit users have noticed the site unexpectedly removed everyone’s chat history prior to January 1st of this year. Those asking why have been directed to a changelog update from June announcing feature updates to chats (via Mashable). The update’s headline didn’t say anything about data going away, and burying any reference to removal at the bottom with a vague, single line:
In an effort to have a smooth and quick transition to this new infrastructure, we will migrate chat messages sent from January 1, 2023 onward.
Assuming anyone read the note and made it all the way to the bottom, they apparently should’ve understood this meant everything before that date would disappear.
And for some, there was no warning.
The day before the changelog was posted, a user posted on the help subreddit, writing that they now had no access to three years’ worth of a conversation with a friend on the site. The user, like others responding to the post, was despondent:
Okay, so I posted yesterday about how I couldn’t access an old conversation. We’ve been talking for three years on my other account but I can only see the few texts we sent each other in May....
So please, how can I recover this chat and save it permanently to my computer? This is very upsetting to me. I consider this conversation as very important to me and the other Redditor as a friend. I want access to those messages. We’ve exchanged our real contact info and whatnot, but three years cannot just disappear like that 😭
An admin responded, saying legacy chats were being migrated to the new chat platform and that only 2023 data is being brought over, adding that they “hope” a data export will help the user get back the older chats. The admin told another user asking whether there was an option to stay on the legacy chat that no, there isn’t, and Reddit is “working on making new chats better.”
I tested out the data export. The page gives you the option to initiate the request under the EU’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), a pair of California regulations, or “Other.” I chose the third option and quickly received a file that appears to have my full history, though admittedly I didn’t make frequent use of the feature. But some users have said their downloads were missing chats. It’s not clear if that’s because they chose one option over another, but given you can only request your data every 30 days, it might be worth waiting for Reddit to offer more clarity before attempting a request.
This update quietly flew under the radar as Reddit made more high-profile changes that killed off the most popular third-party apps resulted in the largest revolt by mods in the site’s history. The protest saw thousands of subreddits go private, and when most of them were pressured by the site to reopen, further protest moves included AMA mods abstaining from coordinating celebrity AMAs, image subreddits allowing only pictures of John Oliver, and some labeling themselves NSFW in a bid to deny Reddit monetization from those subs.
We reached out to Reddit for comment, but did not receive a response by press time.