Why Reddit videos have no audio?

Reddit is a popular social news aggregation and discussion website that has been around since 2005. In recent years, Reddit has introduced the ability for users to upload and share video content. However, one peculiar aspect of Reddit videos is that they have no audio by default.

This lack of audio on Reddit videos sets the platform apart from other social media sites like Facebook or YouTube where video content typically contains audio. Not having audio can degrade the user experience and make Reddit less competitive as a video-sharing platform. Understanding why Reddit videos are silent by default provides insight into the platform’s technical constraints, business priorities, and long-term strategy.

Technical Limitations

One of the primary reasons why Reddit videos have no audio is due to technical limitations with Reddit’s video formats. Reddit mainly relies on the .gif format for videos, which does not support audio (1). The .gif format was designed to be a simple, lightweight way to display short, looping, silent video clips. It is not capable of storing or playing audio along with the visual content.

Reddit does support some other video formats like .mp4 that can contain audio, but there are challenges in supporting multiple formats across the website and apps (2). The main Reddit app and mobile experience seems to prioritize consistency and relying on the audio-less .gif format. While users can sometimes upload videos with audio, the playback experience, especially on mobile devices, is inconsistent due to the limitations of Reddit’s video infrastructure.

In summary, the lack of audio for many Reddit videos can be attributed to technical constraints with the platform’s reliance on the .gif format and the challenges of uniformly supporting videos with audio across devices and experiences.

Copyright Concerns

One key reason Reddit does not allow audio in native videos is to avoid potential copyright issues. Including background music or other audio clips raises the risk of copyright claims and takedown notices. As one Redditor explained, “The only way to avoid [copyright claims] is to not use things you don’t own. If you try to bypass content ID you can be terminated for bypassing YouTube’s system.”

By sticking to silent videos, Reddit sidesteps many of the copyright headaches that platforms like YouTube face. There is much less risk of a video getting flagged or removed due to unauthorized audio. This prevents copyright disputes and potential legal issues for Reddit as a company.

As another Reddit thread pointed out, “If you really want to use copyrighted songs, use an editing program like Audacity, and increase or decrease the pitch by 5%, it’ll sound a bit different but avoids the algorithm.” However, Reddit eliminates the need for users to get creative in order to avoid copyright problems. Silent videos provide a frictionless posting experience without any concerns over unauthorized audio.

Overall, the lack of audio in Reddit videos is likely a strategic choice to prevent copyright issues on a large scale across the platform. Avoiding any gray areas allows Reddit to focus on visual content while steering clear of potential legal battles.

Data Constraints

One major reason Reddit does not allow audio is because audio files require significantly more data and bandwidth compared to video alone. As Reddit users have pointed out, audio can drastically increase data consumption, especially on mobile devices.

For example, one Redditor asked about data usage when running videos in the background on a mobile phone, concerned that the audio stream may be just as data-intensive as the video (source). Others have provided tips for reducing data usage on Reddit, like uninstalling data-heavy apps and using wifi whenever possible (source).

By omitting audio, Reddit is able to significantly cut down on bandwidth usage, especially for users on limited data plans. This allows Reddit to reduce server and storage costs while also making the platform more accessible to users with constrained data.

User Control

One reason Reddit videos have no audio is to allow users more control over their browsing experience. Since videos do not autoplay audio by default, users can scroll through posts without being disturbed by sudden sounds. This avoids unwanted autoplay that could disrupt or annoy users.

Many Reddit users have expressed frustration over videos that autoplay with sound on other platforms. Having no audio by default gives redditors more control and prevents unwanted autoplay. As one user said, “I turned off autoplay, but that didn’t do anything to correct the issue. Any ideas for help?” (Source). Clearly users want more control over autoplaying audio.

By keeping videos mute initially, Reddit provides a better user experience. People can choose to unmute videos they want to hear, rather than getting surprised by sudden sounds. This allows browsing without constant unwanted interruptions.

Focus on Visuals

Reddit’s focus has always been on visually engaging content over audio. As a platform built around sharing images, videos, and text, Reddit highlights content that is visually appealing and easy to quickly consume. Audio could potentially distract from or compete with the platform’s visual appeal. As one Redditor on r/books noted, “I have tried audiobooks many times but it seems that I tend to drift away in thoughts when I am only listening to audiobooks. If I pair it with reading, I find myself focusing more on the reading than the listening.”

Additionally, Reddit caters to an audience with shorter attention spans who prefer snappy, eye-catching posts over longer form content. Audio attachments or playback would simply slow down users looking for that quick “hit” of entertaining visual media. Reddit’s focus on the visuals helps enable the addictive, scroll-friendly interface the platform is known for.

By stripping away audio and emphasizing visual content, Reddit is able to highlight the most engaging parts of posts and subreddits. The focus is fully on what users see on their screens rather than what they hear.


One key reason Reddit videos have no audio is to provide greater accessibility for hearing-impaired users (Source). Audioless videos allow those who are deaf or hard of hearing to fully engage with visual content on Reddit without needing audio. This aligns with Reddit’s commitment to accessibility and catering to diverse users. Removing audio removes a barrier that could exclude certain communities.

Some users have complained about accessibility issues on Reddit’s mobile apps. However, the lack of audio on videos makes the content innately more accessible overall. Reddit likely determined accessibility was better served by having no audio than incomplete or inconsistent audio support.

Brand Identity

A big part of Reddit’s brand identity and minimalist ethos is the lack of audio in native videos [1]. While other social platforms like TikTok and Instagram prominently feature music and audio elements, Reddit has largely stuck to its text-and-image-focused roots. This aligns well with community norms on the platform, where discussions tend to revolve around sharing ideas and perspectives more so than personalities or influencers.

Additionally, the lack of audio puts more focus on the visual content itself and gives users more control over their viewing experience. Users can consume Reddit videos in a variety of contexts, such as quietly in public or while listening to their own music, without having sudden audio bursting through their headphones.

User Workarounds

Although Reddit does not natively support audio in videos, creative users have found some workarounds to add audio using third-party tools. Some users edit their videos in external software like Adobe Premiere to overlay an audio track before uploading to Reddit (1). Popular third-party tools used by Redditors to add audio include Inshot, Kapwing, and Videoleap (2). These tools allow users to import a video, add audio tracks, and export the final video with audio intact to upload to Reddit.

Dedicated Redditors have also come up with innovative solutions to provide audio for their videos. Some users add captions or subtitles to convey audio information visually. Others upload the video without audio on Reddit but provide a link in the comments to the original video with audio on YouTube or other platforms. Reddit communities focused on audio, music, and videos often collectively brainstorm clever workarounds to bring audio to their content.

The Future

There has been growing discussion around whether Reddit should add audio capabilities to its video platform in the future. This potential change has sparked mixed reactions from the Reddit community. Many users argue audio would enhance the video experience and match capabilities of competing platforms like YouTube or TikTok. However, other users prefer Reddit’s text-focused nature and minimalist approach. They believe adding audio may clutter the interface and disrupt Reddit’s brand identity as a “front page of the internet” driven by community discussion.

Those in favor of adding audio highlight the limitations of silent videos. They point out key moments can feel disconnected without natural ambient sounds or an accompanying soundtrack. Audio could allow more complete video narratives and emotional experiences. There are concerns Reddit’s video platform seems outdated compared to fully audio/visual platforms like YouTube. Some also suggest audio capabilities are needed for accessibility, so those with visual impairments can better follow video content.

However, longtime Reddit users argue the platform has thrived precisely because of its simple text and image focus. They believe introducing audio risks overcomplicating Reddit and making it less distinctive. Some also have concerns about increased infrastructure demands, copyright issues with music usage, and loss of user control. Many like that Reddit allows users to consume content at their own pace, without being forced to listen to audio. They see value in Reddit promoting discussion over passive viewing.

Ultimately, adding audio would represent a major shift for Reddit’s identity and user experience. While increased capabilities may help videos feel more immersive, there are valid concerns from loyal users about changing Reddit’s text-centric DNA. The admins would need to carefully weigh community feedback before pursuing any audio features.

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