The Hustle

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

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.

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.


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:

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.

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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