Reddit CEO Steve Huffman has addressed the “blackout” that has hit the platform over the past few days. On Monday, thousands of popular subreddits switched to private as part of a protest against Reddit’s decision to charge third-party developers for its data.
While the move may not directly affect the casual Reddit user’s experience, it will impact the developers who work on third-party apps. Reddit is planning to institute a high-priced system for developers to pay for API access, which was previously free.
Many apps won’t be able to field the new cost of data. Apollo, a Reddit browsing app redesigned for iOS, has already said it will be forced to shutter due to the anticipated $20 million USD in costs.
While a few subreddits have gone public again, many are continuing to protest. In a memo to staff about the protests, a copy of which was obtained by The Verge, Huffman recognized that the company “we knew this was coming,” yet maintained that “like all blowups on Reddit, this one will pass as well.”
The CEO noted that around a thousand subreddits have gone silent and described the protest as “among the noisiest we’ve seen.” He noted that revenue hasn’t been impacted thus far, before telling employees that the “only long term solution is improving our product, and in the short term we have a few upcoming critical mod tool launches we need to nail.”
Reddit is apparently in talks with apps that could potentially shut down due to the cost of API access. Apps specifically geared towards improving accessibility will be exempt from the fee.
On a closing note, Huffman warned employees against wearing Reddit gear in public, writing that “some folks are really upset, and we don’t want you to be the object of their frustrations.”
In other tech news, the Microsoft-Activision merger has been temporarily blocked by a US judge.