Reddit and Twitter come down hard on APIs
Ever since the early days of social media, with sites like MySpace and Friendster, APIs have been used. These are application programming interfaces. They do not create the program on their own. Instead, they allow you to interact with it. For example, Reddit has its own app that you can use on your phone and a website that could be used on a desktop computer. However, many users will download an API and connect it to their Reddit account, so they never use the official app.
APIs have been around for decades, but sites have now decided to start cracking down. They haven’t done this by banning APIs entirely. They have just stopped allowing them to use their data and programs for free. Initially, many social media apps would allow APIs to connect with them at no cost, in part because this was good for getting users and eyes on the site. But now Reddit has decided to charge $20 million (annually) in their updated API pricing, essentially meaning that these APIs are going to disappear. Minor app developers who were previously working on a platform for free – maybe even as a passion project – are not going to be able to afford the $20 million price tag.
It’s not just Reddit. Elon Musk did the same thing to Twitter earlier in 2023, perhaps paving the way for Reddit to follow suit. Musk was charging APIs $42,000 every month. This was dropped to $5,000 a month, but a lot of API developers couldn’t even afford that and these apps begin to disappear. Reddit appears to have set the price tag so high that there’s no chance anyone else will make APIs moving forward.
But why is this happening?
One reason for the change is simply that companies want to charge a fee for their data. Say that someone makes an API that is designed to train an AI program. It would get free training from social media sites, but people would then pay to use the AI – and the company that created the AI would make money. So Reddit and Twitter simply want to receive a piece of that pie.
Another thing to keep in mind is advertising. Many of these APIs would filter out the ads that were being presented on the main Reddit app. Reddit is going to go public in the future, so monetizing the platform is important. It could be that, prior to going public, the company wants to ensure that they are getting ad revenue from all of the users that access their data, or at least as many users as possible. Reddit is slated to go public in the second half of this year, which makes the timing of this change all the more telling.
The internet is changing
This is just one way that the internet is changing, and it could have a big impact both on how people use these apps and how advertisers interact with them. Here at Content Customs, we can help you and your company keep an eye on these changes and make sure you’re in the right position to utilize them to your own advantage.