Reddit CEO Steve Huffman doubles down on API changes

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Many Redditors are still up in arms about Reddit’s recent API changes, but CEO Steve Huffman isn’t backing down.

That’s the gist (and, frankly, nearly all of the substance) of Huffman’s interview with The Verge(opens in a new tab), published on Friday.

A little context: Numerous Reddit communities are currently turned private, in protest of the platform’s new API pricing structure(opens in a new tab), which threatens to kill many popular, third-party Reddit apps. These “blackouts” can happen as Reddit provides a platform for forum-like chats, but moderators on the platform have a fair degree of autonomy, including the power to set a subreddit to private, which makes it inaccessible to most users.

Huffman tried to iron things out in an AMA (ask me anything) session on Reddit, but it only made things worse. Now, in his interview with The Verge, the CEO once again explained his position on the matter.


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According to Huffman, continuing to provide free API access to every third party developer is out of the question, as some developers are making “millions” on their apps while costing Reddit “about $10 million in pure infrastructure costs.” The CEO also says the company has made a deal with the developers building accessibility apps, and certain other “critical” apps, naming only Pushshift. But others, including the popular Reddit app Apollo, will have to start paying for access.

Munch of the interview revolves around the timing of these changes and the short notice given to developers to adapt (Reddit announced the changes in April, right around the time when Twitter did a similar thing with its API). According to Huffman, the changes were a long time coming, and were internally discussed as far back as 2015. Ultimately, the CEO said Reddit decided it doesn’t want to keep covering costs while third party apps profit from their data.

“We did it when we did it. We could do it a year from now and we’d probably have the same conversation. We could do it five years ago, we’d be having the same conversation,” said Huffman.

As for the protests by Reddit’s users, Huffman claimed they’re already dying down — having already downplayed their impact.

“We don’t have problems with protests. I think it’s important. That’s part of the democracy. It’s part of the democratic part of Reddit. But the users are not in support of it now. It’s like a protest in a city that goes on too long, and the rest of the citizens of the city would like to go about their lives,” he said.

Huffman acknowledged that a part of Reddit’s community won’t be fully satisfied with how things will go down, as their favorite third-party app might shut down (Apollo and Sync have already done so). He said the UI on these third-party apps is “simpler” while Reddit’s own official app has become “too cluttered,” and added company is working on that: “We will close those gaps as effectively as we can.”

Read the full interview on The Verge(opens in a new tab).

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