If you thought that the situation on Reddit would be resolved in a few days, we’re sorry to tell you that you were being naive. Reddit is currently immersed in what could be considered a “war” between the management of the internet’s largest forum and app developers and the community, who are protesting against the recently established exorbitant fees that Reddit has imposed for using its API.
What was initially planned as a 48-hour “shutdown” by thousands of subreddits has now stretched into this entire week, and for the time being, it will continue until further notice. And it’s not just because we assume that Reddit has no plans to back down on this measure, but also because the words of Reddit CEO Steve Huffman essentially confirm it.
Huffman gave an interview to The Verge yesterday, where he tried to do some damage control in a rather peculiar way. Among the noteworthy statements in the interview is his assertion that Reddit’s API, which has been used by third-party developers to create highly useful apps for years, “was never designed to support third-party applications.”
According to Huffman, “the vast majority of API usage” is for “tools, bots, and enhancements for Reddit,” and he believes that third-party apps like Apollo, one of the heavily affected ones by the new fees, do not offer any improvement to the Reddit experience.
Huffman also admits to bearing some responsibility for the current situation, stating that he “let (the API) exist” for all these years and that he should take the blame for it because he was the one who defended it for a long time. The Reddit CEO claims that he only recently realized “how much they were benefiting from our API,” despite being the CEO of the platform. “They were not charities,” Huffman said.
Adding fuel to the fire, Huffman also states that apps like Apollo “don’t add as much value to Reddit as they take away, in any way,” and he believes it is better to privatize the API (as happened with Twitter) rather than completely banning its use. “They have to pay for this. It’s fair. What our counterparts have done is to completely ban them. And we’ve told them no, that we believe in the free market. They have to cover their costs. That’s our business decision, and we’re not going to undo that business decision.”
With this neoliberal approach that seems detached from reality and reminiscent of another notorious leader in the tech industry, Elon Musk, it is only natural that tension on Reddit will continue to escalate, and the subreddits that are currently “in the dark” will remain so for many days.
Frankly, we hope that Reddit reconsiders its stance and finally listens to its community (which is the reason it pays its bills).
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