CEO of Reddit lashes out at protests, moderators, and third-party apps – Reddit CEO Steve Huffman is refusing to back down in the face of objections over the platform’s API modifications. In interviews with The Verge, NBCNews, and NPR, Huffman defended the company’s choice to charge third-party apps, claiming that the API wasn’t built to enable these clients.
In these conversations, the Reddit co-founder also discussed protesting moderators, modifying site rules, and profitability. The platform is suffering one of the most severe blowbacks from the community, but the CEO is unwilling to budge.
Reddit said in April that it would charge for its API, but no pricing was provided. Christian Selig, the developer of Apollo, a popular Reddit client for iOS, announced earlier this month that he had a call with Reddit. The API pricing they quoted him may cost him $20 million per year to run the service. Selig later stated that he is compelled to shut down Apollo since the social network is unwilling to adjust its pricing structure. Other third-party developers of clients such as Reddit is Fun and Relay for Reddit have also announced that their apps will be shut down on June 30.
The only exception given by Reddit was to grant free API access to non-commercial apps that provide accessibility features. The corporation has reached agreements with apps such as RedReader, Dystopia, and Luna to exempt them from its “large-scale pricing terms.”
Thousands of subreddits went silent on June 12 to protest the changes, causing a momentary outage. Meanwhile, in his AMA, Huffman took a firm stand against Apollo and Selig. Because moderators saw no change, many subreddits decided to extend the blackout.
In one of the interviews, Huffman even called protesting moderators “landed gentry.”
“If you’re a politician or a business owner, you are accountable to your constituents. So a politician needs to be elected, and a business owner can be fired by its shareholders,” he said.
“And I think, on Reddit, the analogy is closer to the landed gentry: The people who get there first get to stay there and pass it down to their descendants, and that is not democratic.”
He also stated that he intends to reform moderator policies so that users can vote them out. Currently, a higher-ranking moderator — or the company — has the authority to remove moderators. In related news, a r/Apple moderator tweeted (via 9to5Mac) that Reddit was threatening to remove moderators staging an indefinite blackout.
Reddit links to its Moderator Code of Conduct in a blog post, claiming that “dissent, debate, and discussions are foundational parts of Reddit” and that it respects the right to protest. However, the regulations say that if moderators are obstructive, the corporation may remove them.
Despite these assertions, Huffman stated that Reddit would not invest in paid moderators or take actions that would consolidate control within the company.
That suggests that the firm is content for unpaid moderators to monitor and manage the communities. According to research published last year, they spend 466 hours every day sustaining these communities. It stated that paying them $20 per hour would cost them $3.4 million per year.
The existence of third-party apps has been a major point of contention during these protests. Reddit has often stated that it will continue to provide free access to the data API — and that the bulk of apps, such as bots, will not be required to pay because they are not marketed.
Huffman has recently discussed commercialization and making Reddit lucrative. Charging for the API is one of the steps in this process. In the most recent round of interviews, he stated that Reddit is “perfectly willing to work with the folks who want to work with us” and discussed providing developers with a longer transition period. Huffman’s complaint is that some of these applications generate millions of dollars per year utilizing Reddit’s data, but the firm must face infrastructure expenditures of up to $10 million per year, according to The Verge.
He told the publication that he was the person within the corporation in charge of the policy modification that affected these apps. The corporation appears to have been mulling API rule changes for years.
“[Reddit’s API] was never designed to support third-party apps. We let it exist. And I should take the blame for that because I was the guy arguing for that for a long time. But I didn’t know — and this is my fault — the extent that they were profiting off of our API. That these were not charities,” Huffman said.
Reddit announced on Thursday that 80% of the top 5,000 communities in terms of daily active users are now available. According to Huffman, the protestors are a “small group that’s very upset,” and the “greater Reddit community” is joining in to support them.
He noted that, while causing “a fair amount of trouble,” the protests had no meaningful impact on the company’s income. According to rumors, some advertisers suspended campaigns during the blackout. To attract advertisers, the corporation has been releasing more ad capabilities.
Regarding the impact of third-party app closures, Huffman stated that 97% of people utilize Reddit’s site or official app to access the platform – the firm has 57 million daily active users. The blog article also stated that 93% of moderator actions are performed using Reddit’s own tools, and the business has committed to improving them. The post and Huffman’s statements are attempting to convey the idea that protests are led by a tiny group of users and do not reflect the feelings of a larger user base.
While there has been talk of Reddit going public, the CEO is more concerned about profitability. An IPO is “something we’d like to do someday,” he told The Verge, but there are “a few things I’d like to do with Reddit before we get there.”
In reaction to Huffman’s statements, moderators are working to improve the effectiveness of blackouts. Alternatively, some communities are establishing servers on alternate websites such as Lemmy and Kbin.