Reddit will charge companies for API access, citing AI training concerns

The company has not announced a pricing scheme.


Reddit has collected a treasure trove of human interactions and conversations throughout the past 18 years and this rich data pool has been the perfect spot for companies to train large language models, otherwise known as AI chatbots. Now, Reddit wants a piece of the AI pie and will begin charging companies for API access, which is necessary to train LLMs.

After all, these are not mom-and-pop companies using the API to train AI chatbots. Bigwigs like Google and OpenAI use Reddit to help provide initial guidance to burgeoning artificial intelligence services. To that end, Reddit is introducing a “new premium access point for third parties,” the company said in an official announcement.

The pricing is still up in the air, though Reddit has confirmed it'll be split into tiers of some kind, likely to support companies of different sizes. The social media platform mentions various usage limits and broader usage rights as points of distinction between tiers.

“The Reddit corpus of data is really valuable,” Steve Huffman, founder and chief executive of Reddit, told The New York Times. “But we don’t need to give all of that value to some of the largest companies in the world for free.”

Reddit is far from the only online depository of information used to train large language models, as data scrapers like Common Crawl are also frequent chatbot tutors. However, Common Crawl and related services trade in raw data, as in large pools of information sitting online, whereas Reddit consists of conversations between humans. A well-rounded AI requires access to both types of data to increase factual accuracy and person-like behavior.

Reddit’s application program interface (API) is also regularly used to create and maintain content moderation tools. Instead of charging content moderators to access the API, the company is creating dedicated moderation tools in the form of iOS and Android apps. The apps will feature a mod log, rules management tools, mod queue information and more.

Why make this change now? AI has gone from niche to big business seemingly overnight and rumors swirl that Reddit is looking to go public later this year. Setting up a new revenue stream is never a bad idea when introducing an IPO.

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