Reddit's CEO reportedly told staff that the community's API protest will blow over

Thousands of subreddits went private in response to Reddit starting to charge developers for API access.

Robert Galbraith / Reuters

If you go to Reddit right now, your favorite subreddit might not be available. More than 8,000 communities on the platform have gone private to protest Reddit's API policy changes. Moderators of many of those subreddits said they'd open up access to their communities again on Wednesday, while others are prepared to prolong their protests indefinitely. Either way, Reddit co-founder and CEO Steve Huffman doesn't seem too worried.

According to The Verge, Huffman told staff to block out the noise from the collective action. He noted in a memo that there hadn't been "any significant revenue impact" as yet and said Reddit would "get through it."

Reddit was down for many users for a while on Monday, soon after the protest started. "A significant number of subreddits shifting to private caused some expected stability issues," the company told Engadget at the time.

Huffman wrote that while Reddit anticipated the protest, "it is a challenge nevertheless and we have our work cut out for us." He noted that some Reddit employees "have been working around the clock, adapting to infrastructure strains, engaging with communities and responding to the myriad of issues related to this blackout." Huffman thanked them for their efforts and said that Reddit had to stay the course.

“There’s a lot of noise with this one. Among the noisiest we’ve seen. Please know that our teams are on it, and like all blowups on Reddit, this one will pass as well,” he reportedly wrote. “We absolutely must ship what we said we would. 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.”

In April, Reddit said it would start charging for API access. Third-party developers have used the API to make thousands of apps that hook into Reddit, including moderation tools. Reddit users are concerned that the changes will significantly harm the community. We're already starting to see that play out to a certain extent.

Apollo and RIF, two popular third-party apps that redditors use to access Reddit, will shut down on June 30th, just before the API pricing changes come into force. The creator of Apollo estimated that maintaining the app would cost him around $20 million per year. Huffman addressed the issue in his memo.

"While the two biggest third-party apps, Apollo and RIF, along with a couple others, have said they plan to shut down at the end of the month, we are still in conversation with some of the others," Huffman wrote. "And as I mentioned in my post last week, we will exempt accessibility-focused apps and so far have agreements with RedReader and Dystopia."

Meanwhile, Huffman warned staff about wearing Reddit-branded apparel in public for the time being. "Some folks are really upset, and we don’t want you to be the object of their frustrations," he wrote.