Large Reddit Communities Stage Protest Against New Fees

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Reddit has recently changed their API pricing, which has soured many developers whom are now scrambling to figure out how to pay the new fees while others are shutting down their Reddit apps altogether (such as Apollo).

Following Twitter’s new enterprise API pricing which started at $42,000 and scaled up from there with usage — Reddit decided to try a somewhat similar policy that has led to protests across the largest subreddits. Participating subreddits have in some cases switched to a private mode in which people outside their groups can’t see their posts. Some of the subreddits participating in the protest are ‘r/Jokes’, ‘r/funny’, ‘r/personalfinance’, among others.

This means that switching those large subreddits to private will reduce Reddit’s traffic and activity because people outside those subreddits will no longer be able to see or interact with their posts. Reduced activity tends to result in reduced revenue for Reddit, which uses the surveillance advertising business model that depends on user engagement.

The developer of the popular Reddit app Apollo — Christian Selig has announced that the Apollo app will shut down on June 30 because Reddit’s new API pricing would cost the app $20 million per year to operate. This is reminiscent of Microsoft’s decision to drop Twitter from its advertising platform due to Twitter’s increased fees. WordPress’ JetPack has also dropped Twitter support.

There are multiple possible reasons for Reddit’s decision to increase API including but not limited to:

  • Increased revenue.
  • Eliminating competing third-party apps such as Apollo.
  • Increasing their ability to track users by getting more of them into the official Reddit app, which contains Reddit’s own trackers and ads (see the second reason above about getting rid of third-party apps).

If Apollo did raise their prices enough to cover the cost of the new API pricing, that would essentially pass the cost of Reddit’s increased pricing onto Reddit users in a manner that doesn’t clearly show that Reddit is to blame for the increase. Apollo is the one that would be frowned upon.