Reddit is in crisis following the announcement of the monetization of its API. The move caused many third-party apps to be shut down and thousands of subreddits to be mothballed in protest. Reddit CEO Steve Huffman has been criticized for his handling of the situation and his lack of transparency. This crisis comes as Reddit prepares for an IPO, raising questions about the future of the platform.
, the well-known community site, recently announced its decision to start charging for access to its API, sending shock waves through its users. As a result, thousands of subreddits have been made private, limiting access to a large number of platform users. So much for the quick explanation, now we go into the details.
A controversial decision
Last April, Reddit executives announced that they would start charging for access to their API, a significant shift for a platform whose API was previously free to access. Following in the footsteps of Twitter, Reddit seeks to take advantage of the vast amounts of data its users have accumulated over the years.
The first victims of this change were third-party apps designed to browse Reddit from mobile devices. One of the best-known apps, Apollo, had to shut down, unable to afford the sums Reddit demanded to continue operating. Other applications like ReddPlanet or Sync have also announced their intention to close.
The Apollo developer recently revealed in a Reddit post that the 7 billion requests his app makes each month would cost him $1.7 million per month, or $20 million per year. Even limiting his service to paying subscribers would mean the Reddit API would cost him more than double what he earns from subscriptions.
Chain reaction: subreddits on strike
This decision sparked a real revolt among Reddit users. Moderators of some of the biggest subreddits have declared a “temporary strike”, making their groups private for two days. Since then, things have moved quickly, and there are now thousands of subreddits on strike, with hiatuses that could be temporary or indefinite.
Among the subreddits affected are some of the most popular on the platform, such as r/funny (over 40 million subscribers), r/gaming, r/Music, r/france, r/science, r/food, r /videos, r/history or r/InternetIsBeautiful. The Reddark site monitors these “protests” and currently lists 6,292 subreddits in strike mode.
Apologies that don’t work
Reddit CEO Steve Huffman’s attempt to calm things down during a question-and-answer session (AMA, “Ask Me Anything”) was a complete disaster. According to The Verge, the exchange served to accuse Steve Huffman of being a coward, among other criticisms. Users have criticized Huffman for “charging ridiculous amounts of money” without sharing that revenue with Reddit moderators, who spend ” a lot of time and effort maintaining their communities “.
Third-party app developers and moderators themselves have denounced Reddit’s lack of transparency. No information on API pricing was disclosed during the announcement, and Reddit avoided giving details on other controversial aspects, such as banning these third-party apps from displaying adult content. .
This movement of Reddit is seen with a very bad eye by the community. Some suspect that the decision to charge the API is to prepare for its IPO scheduled for the second half of 2023. The CEO of Reddit himself tried to justify the decision by recalling that Reddit is a company whose goal is to make a profit. However, it is not certain that Reddit can survive this scandal without damage.
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