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Reddit CEO Steve Huffman: Reddit ‘was never designed to support third-party apps’

Thousands of Reddit communities are still dark in protest against the API changes that are forcing some third-party developers to shut down their apps. It’s a surprising change for many members of the Reddit community, but it’s one that Reddit CEO Steve Huffman tells The edge that he can make good. In his view, those third-party apps do not add much value to the platform.

“So the vast majority of API usage — don’t [third-party apps like Apollo for Reddit] – the other 98 percent of them, make tools, bots, improvements to Reddit. That’s what the API is for,” says Huffman. “It was never designed to support third-party apps.” According to Huffman, “He allowed it to exist” and “I should take the blame for that, because I was the man who argued for it for a long time.”

Huffman is now objecting to the third-party apps building a business on top of his own. “I didn’t know — and it’s my fault — how much they were taking advantage of our API. That these were not charities.”

“That’s our business decision and we’re not going to reverse that business decision.”

I asked him if he thought Apollo, reef for Reddit and Sync, all of which are planning to shut down as a result of the price changes, are not adding value to Reddit. “Not as much as they take,” he says. “Not really.”

I also asked if Huffman really believes the blackouts have had any impact on his decision making around the API price changes at all. “In this case? That’s right,” says Huffman. “That’s our business decision, and we’re not going to reverse that business decision.”

We’ll have more from our interview with Huffman soon.

While the company “respects the community’s right to protest” and promises it won’t force communities to reopen, Reddit also suggests there’s no need to; more than 80 percent of the top 5,000 communities of daily active users are now open, according to a factsheet shared by the company on Thursday. In its fact sheet, Reddit writes that there are more than 100,000 “active communities,” that the company sees 57 million “daily active uniques,” and that there are more than 50,000 active moderators every day.

Reddit users rioted after Apollo revealed to Reddit developer Christian Selig in late May that he would get $20 million a year under Reddit’s new terms. At the height of the protests last week, more than 8,000 subreddits were down, and while the protests were only supposed to last from June 12 to June 14, many have extended their blackouts.

There have been some cases focused on accessibility where Reddit has made exceptions to make apps work. “The ones that do really well for our users — RedReader, Dystopia, Luna — like add real value at their own expense? We’ve exempted,” says Huffman. “We’ll bear that cost.”

Shreya has been with australiabusinessblog.com for 3 years, writing copy for client websites, blog posts, EDMs and other mediums to engage readers and encourage action. By collaborating with clients, our SEO manager and the wider australiabusinessblog.com, Shreya seeks to understand an audience before creating memorable, persuasive copy.

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