from the the-entitlement-is-off-the-charts dept
Steve Huffman, the CEO of Reddit, has decided to just keep on talking. After his disastrous AMA helped inspire more subreddits to join a 48 hour blackout, and his dismissal of the protesting subreddits as something not worth paying attention to resulted in many subreddits extending their protests indefinitely, Huffman apparently thought it would make sense to go do a bunch of interviews and insult the protesting mods some more. We’ll start with the interview he did with NPR which is just dripping with entitlement.
First he dismisses this as a “business decision” that some users didn’t like:
“It’s a small group that’s very upset, and there’s no way around that. We made a business decision that upset them,” Huffman told NPR in his first interview since nearly 9,000 subreddits staged a 48-hour boycott. “But I think the greater Reddit community just wants to participate with their fellow community members.”
I mean, the second part is correct, of course. But it’s also besides the point. Of course the greater Reddit community just wants to participate. But the reason they’re protesting is because Huffman’s own decision to effectively cut off their API makes it more difficult to participate.
And, again, this kind of waving away the protest is insulting:
“The protest, what it really affects is the everyday users, most of whom aren’t involved in this or the changes that spurred this,” Huffman said.
No shit. Of course most users aren’t involved in this, but it’s the people who understand how much damage this does to the site — generally the most passionate users of the platform — who are trying to make the point and get the word out.
But, really, the line that got me the most was this one:
“Reddit represents one of the largest data sets of just human beings talking about interesting things,” Huffman said. “We are not in the business of giving that away for free.”
I mean holy shit dude. Do you listen to yourself? Where did that “data set of just human beings talking about interesting things” come from? It came from millions of people who gave you that content for free. And many of them used the site through third party apps because those apps made your site much more useful without charging you a dime.
The entitlement of Huffman is astounding.
He got free content and free app development work and now he’s going around whining about how “we’re not in the business of giving that away for free.”
Then he did an interview with NBC News, where he talks about his plan to strip protesting moderators from their subreddits and hand them over to others. Now, he’s correct that sometimes subreddit mods can be little power-hungry dictators (I still remember how Techdirt got banned from r/technology years ago for no reason beyond the fact that one old mod didn’t like us), but that’s not why he’s doing this. He’s doing it to get back at the protesting mods:
Huffman said in an interview that he plans to institute rules changes that would allow Reddit users to vote out moderators who have overseen the protest, comparing them to a “landed gentry.”
He’s even using that same bullshit language that Elon Musk used. Remember how Musk talked about “lords and peasants.” And now Huffman is talking about “landed gentry.” In both cases, these are the guys in full control over their platforms, the literal dictators, and they’re simply trying to set their users against those who have provided massive value to the site for years for free. It’s disgusting.
Then, Huffman went to go talk to The Verge, where he claims that the API was never meant for 3rd party apps:
“So the vast majority of the uses of the API — not [third-party apps like Apollo for Reddit] — the other 98 percent of them, make tools, bots, enhancements to Reddit. That’s what the API is for,” Huffman says. “It was never designed to support third-party apps.”
I mean, you say that now, but that’s clearly bullshit. The reason those third party apps exist is because Reddit was insanely late to the game in offering its own app. And many of the apps made the site itself way more useful and valuable.
Yes, he’s now saying that, as a business matter, those apps are now costing him money, because users aren’t seeing the ads. But there are better ways of dealing with that than just making it prohibitively expensive to offer such an app. Reddit could build in more native ads, or it could offer third party apps additional useful features that cost money. Instead, Huffman is engaging in the cardinal sin of the internet: trying to charge for something that has always been free. And acting as if he’s entitled to that money, and it’s the people who don’t want to pay who are the problem.
And, again, Huffman seems like all entitlement all the time:
“They need to pay for this. That is fair.”
I mean… the users of Reddit could just as easily turn around and say the same thing to Huffman for all the free labor, content, and data they’ve provided to him.
For years I’ve really respected Reddit. It seemed like another one of those companies that really respected the open internet and often fought for it. Reddit was critical a decade ago in supporting the fight against SOPA. The legal and policy people I knew who worked at Reddit all seemed really committed to fighting for the open internet.
And here’s Huffman throwing away all that goodwill, pissing on the open internet, and saying he’s going to lock up his site that benefited so much from the open internet by trying to force companies to pay for it.
Throughout the interview he just gives these entitled quotes one after another, acting as if all the users are his and that he owns everything they’ve ever written. He acts as if they’re ungrateful for using better third party apps and not being “on our advertising platform.” Really:
“And the opportunity cost of not having those users on our platform, on our advertising platform, is really significant,” he said. “At the end of the day, it’s simply expensive to run an app like Reddit.”
And then there’s this:
“We’re 18 years old,” Huffman said. “I think it’s time we grow up and behave like an adult company.”
You want to “grow up” and “behave like an adult company”? Really? Then maybe don’t piss on all the work your own community members and mods put into that company for free, and stop treating them as if their only value is as revenue generators.
That’s acting like an adult. What Huffman is doing now is acting like a child. A spoiled, entitled, child.