Reddit CEO’s AMA turns into disaster

    Reddit CEO and co-founder Steve Huffman has publicly defended the company’s controversial API changes in an “Ask Me Anything” discussion Friday. Despite widespread backlash from the community and third-party app developers, the changes, which have been criticized for their high pricing and potential to force many third-party apps to shut down, are part of Reddit’s strategy to become a self-sustaining business, according to Huffman.

    “Reddit needs to be a self-sustaining business, and to do that, we can no longer subsidize commercial entities that require large-scale data use,” Huffman said in the thread.

    As an apparent result, popular third-party apps like Apollo, Reddit is Fun, and Sync have announced their closure before the new pricing goes into effect on July 1. Huffman, who also goes by the username u/spez, acknowledged that the 30-day window given to developers for the new API was a tight timeline and mentioned that Reddit is continuing to engage with developers who still want to work with them.

    However, several developers in the discussion claimed that their attempts to contact Reddit were ignored. As reported by the Verge’s Jay Peters(opens in a new tab), the developer of ReddPlanet spoke with Peters detailing his attempts to get in contact with Reddit and having been “ignored every time.”


    Apollo app to shut down as Reddit API dispute somehow gets uglier

    Drama soon filled the thread after a Redditor asked Huffman(opens in a new tab) about the claim that the CEO told site moderators that Apollo developer Christian Selig had “threatened us.” For context, Selig was one of the first third-party developers to speak publicly about the API changes(opens in a new tab), highlighting that the new pricing would cost him $20 million per year to continue operating the extremely popular Apollo app. In response, Huffman accused Selig of “operating inefficiently and not being a good API user,” according to TechCrunch(opens in a new tab).

    Huffman received criticism from Redditors in the thread for his handling of the previous situation with Selig and the Apollo app. Huffman then accused(opens in a new tab) Selig of inconsistent communication and extortion.

    Selig’s interpretation of the situation is that during a call with Huffman, he jokingly suggested that if operating Apollo were to cost him $20 million, “Reddit should cut him a check to put an end to the app.” This isn’t an unprecedented move, since in 2014 Reddit acquired an old Reddit client called Alien Blue. Selig clarified during that recorded phone call that it was “mostly a joke.”

    This interaction between Huffman and Selig is what created the most backlash from the AMA with many Redditors across the site coming to the defense of the Apollo developer.

    Huffman also addressed the issue of sexually explicit content on third-party apps, stating that due to a changing regulatory environment and legal concerns, Reddit has to be strict about where such content appears. The API changes don’t allow for NSFW content (pornography, gore, etc.) to be viewed on third-party apps. He also mentioned that Reddit is working on improvements to its own app, including its moderation tools and accessibility features.

    Despite all this backlash, Huffman confirmed that Reddit has no plans to revise the upcoming API changes. He also responded to concerns about Reddit becoming increasingly profit-driven, stating, “We’ll continue to be profit-driven until profits arrive. Unlike some of the 3P [third party] apps, we are not profitable.”

    The API changes have led to a planned blackout protest from thousands of subreddits, with more than 3,000 pledging to “go dark” for two days (or indefinitely) starting on June 12. Despite one of the largest sitewide protests in years, Huffman and Reddit are largely sticking to their stance.

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