Reddit CEO: Sticking With API Changes, Despite Subreddits Going Dark

Reddit CEO: Sticking With API Changes, Despite Subreddits Going Dark

‘Unlike some of the 3P [third-party] applications, we’re not profitable,’ says Steve Huffman in defending the move to charge for high-volume API access.

(Photo Illustration by Rafael Henrique/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images)

Despite facing protests from users, the Reddit CEO refuses to back down on charging for access to the social media platform’s API, even though he will shut down some third-party apps.

According to Reddit CEO Steve Huffman, it has become too expensive to maintain free API access when the platform itself is struggling to make ends meet. “Reddit must be a self-sufficient business, and to do so, we can no longer subsidize commercial entities that require large-scale data use,” he said in a post (Opens in a new window) on Friday.

Huffman made the statement as a growing number of Reddit communities plan to shut down on June 12 to protest the company’s decision to charge for API access. This includes asking for $0.24 per 1,000 API calls.

The new pricing structure has caused third-party Reddit client Apollo to announce that it will shut down on June 30 because it would cost $20 million a year to run the app with the API change. In response, the CEO of Reddit ran an Ask Me Anything(Opens in a new window) query on Friday to make the case for the upcoming API change, which will go into effect on July 1.

reddit app

(Credit: Getty Images)

Huffman stressed that 90% of third-party apps will still be able to access the Reddit API for free. This is because the company offers free API access for applications that only require 100 or 10 API queries per minute, depending on the customer ID. In addition, “non-commercial, accessibility-focused apps and tools will continue to be freely accessible.”

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But for other applications that need a higher API access rate, Huffman admitted they will have to pay. “Some apps like Apollo, Reddit is Fun, and Sync have decided that this price doesn’t work for their business and will shut down before the price takes effect,” he wrote.

The Reddit CEO was then asked about concerns that the social media platform had become too focused on generating profit. However, Huffman didn’t try to sugarcoat Reddit’s effort to generate revenue. “We will continue to be earnings driven until earnings come. Unlike some of the 3P [third-party] applications, we are not profitable”, he said (Opens in a new window).

In another move that could upset users, Huffman said that Reddit will also limit third-party apps’ access to adult content through the platform’s data API. “It’s a constant struggle to maintain this content,” Huffman said of the change. “We are going to keep it. But the regulatory environment has gotten much stricter around adult content and as a result we have to be strict/conservative about where it appears.”

At his AMA, Huffman also snapped some photos of Apollo developer Christian Selig. Yesterday, Selig claimed that Reddit has been telling other developers that he tried to blackmail (Opens in a new window) the social media platform. According to Selig, what actually happened is that Reddit misinterpreted (Opens in a new window) a comment he made as a threat.

When asked about the blackmail allegations, Huffman said: “Selig’s behavior and communications with us have been all over the place, telling us one thing while saying something completely different externally, recording and leaking a private phone call, to the point at which I don’t know how we could do business with him.

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Selig responded (Opens in a new window) and said, “Don’t you really see that making up stories about blackmail and threats would make it difficult for us to work together, and not for me to defend myself?”

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