Access to the Reddit API will no longer be free for commercial use. The company wants developers of generative AI to pay a fee if they wish to make use of user data.
The online forum Reddit is known for discussing virtually every topic, organized in one of its so-called subreddits. The website has grown continuously from its inception in 2005. Currently, the platform has 57 million users. Unbeknownst to them, Redditors are producing an enormous amount of data for AI training on a daily basis. OpenAI has made extensive use of it when training ChatGPT.
Reddit CEO Steve Huffman explains to the New York Times that the data is of great value to those involved in generative AI. “But we don’t have to hand over all that value for free to some of the biggest companies in the world.”
Reddit has not yet clarified how much companies will have to pay over for access to the API. Still, it is already clear that “higher usage limits and broader usage rights” are to be made available after payment, according to the company. The API has been free to use commercially since 2008.
The API fees might also affect the group of third-party apps that package Reddit in their own unique ways. Platforms like Apollo, Rif and Relay have based their business models on ad revenue thanks to Reddit’s contents being accessible on an API level.
Reddit’s corpus is broad but also full of contradictions and incomplete. 62 percent of its users are male and nearly half of Reddit’s population is from the United States. It’s therefore not necessarily a representative group by itself, but the amount of data and breadth of topics discussed will still be invaluable for AI training.