APIs — and what they have to do with Reddit — explained

APIs allow the integration of handy third-party apps, but Reddit readers may be in trouble.

If you spend as much time reading Reddit as I do (hello, fellow r/nosleep fans), you know the mobile app can be a little clunky.

APIs — and what they have to do with Reddit — explained

Thus, many users have adopted third-party readers — e.g., Apollo, Replay, Infinity — but an API change may have them doomed.

What are APIs?

Application programming interfaces (APIs) let computer programs talk to each other, which makes it easier to develop and integrate third-party applications.


  • Using PayPal to make online purchases
  • Logging in to a website with your Facebook or Google account
  • Travel booking sites that pull data from multiple airlines or hotels

What’s this got to do with Reddit?

Recently, Reddit announced it will start charging for every time a third-party API sends it a request to retrieve information.

This has some developers sounding the alarm:

  • Apollo creator Christian Selig said his popular Reddit-browsing app made ~7B requests in May, which would now cost $1.7m/month — or an infeasible $20m/year.
  • Another top app, Reddit is Fun, said Reddit will now block ads on third-party apps, which accounts for most of RIF’s revenue.

If any of this sounds familiar, it’s likely because Twitter just pulled a similar move, asking $42k+/month for access to data used by researchers. (Twitter reversed course on charging traffic and public emergency accounts.)

Why would a website do this?

Some, like Facebook, have restricted access to curb cyberattacks or leaks.

And obviously, monetization. Reddit will also cash in on AI companies that scrape its posts for data and recoup the ad revenue it loses when people use apps to bypass ads.

Kotaku speculates Reddit also wants to lure people to its ad-free Reddit Premium.

  • Meanwhile, Reddit is preparing to IPO, but lead investor Fidelity recently cut its estimated stake by 41%, part of a wider trend among growth stage startups, per TechCrunch.

Reddit’s director of consumer and production communications Tim Rathschmidt told The Verge that it intends to keep working with third-party apps “to help them improve efficiency, which can significantly impact overall cost” — but how it’ll all shake out remains to be seen.

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