Reddit co-founder Steve Huffman believes companies should be paying for access to the platform’s data and plans to charge for the APIs that make it possible.
In an interview with The New York Times, Huffman outlined his belief that other companies are benefiting a little too much from Reddit’s vast quantity of data, all without Reddit reaping the rewards.
“The Reddit corpus of data is really valuable,” Steve Huffman said in the interview. “But we don’t need to give all of that value to some of the largest companies in the world for free.”
In particular, companies have been using the platform as a training ground for the next generation of AIs, thanks in large part to the unique nature of Reddit’s countless conversations.
“More than any other place on the internet, Reddit is a home for authentic conversation,” Mr. Huffman said. “There’s a lot of stuff on the site that you’d only ever say in therapy, or A.A., or never at all.”
Huffman’s approach differs from Twitter in one key area: Reddit will continue to let developers use the API for free as long as they’re building tools that help users get more out of the platform. Similarly, he told the Times that academic and noncommercial API use would also remain free. This is in stark contrast to Twitter, which recently refused to grant the National Weather Service an exemption to its paid API policy.
Where Huffman draws the line is with companies using Reddit to cash in.
“Crawling Reddit, generating value and not returning any of that value to our users is something we have a problem with,” Mr. Huffman told the Times. “It’s a good time for us to tighten things up.”
“We think that’s fair,” he added.