Earlier this year, the website Reddit has announced API changes, that include making the API paid on a way that forced 3rd party clients for Reddit to shut down. More details can be seen on these news posts: https://www.theverge.com/2023/5/31/23743993/reddit-apollo-client-api-cost, https://www.theverge.com/2023/6/8/23754183/apollo-reddit-app-shutting-down-api. (Or search on the web for "Reddit 2023 API changes" for more news. I won't provide more links).

Would these changes be considered anticompetitive? Specially talking that Reddit didn't have an official mobile client/app until 2016 and 3rd party clients have existed a long time before that. (Not only that, but they also have crippled moderation of their communities, mostly because moderators of Reddit's communities relied on 3rd party clients due to their official app lacking several moderation features).

  • Now, a more interesting question is "does this change fall foul of disability discrimination laws?", seeing as most people with some accessibility need use 3rd party apps and the official app has been thoroughly trounced for accessibility.
    – Skrrp
    Dec 26, 2023 at 17:18

1 Answer 1



Business behaviour that is potentially illegal

There are also a range of business behaviours that may damage competition, depending on the circumstances.

Business behaviour can break the law when it has the purpose, effect or likely effect of substantially lessening competition in a market.

Business behaviour substantially lessens competition when it interferes with or damages the competitive process in a market in a meaningful way. This is usually by deterring, hindering or preventing competition.

The first point of analysis is to determine what the market is. If this went to court, Reddit would try to define the market as widely as possible - say “all mobile apps”, in that market, whatever Reddit does is going to have an insignificant effect because they are such a small player. In contrast, the plaintiff would try to define the market as narrowly as possible - only apps that use Reddit data, and therefore Reddit has substantial market power.

The judge would decide what the market is, probably somewhere between the two extreme positions, and that decision will be critical in determining if Reddit has substantial market power in it. If they don’t that’s the end of the case because you can’t abuse a power you don’t have.

If they are found to have substantial market power, then the next question is whether Reddit’s pricing is a misuse of that power. The issue here is margin or price squeezing by unfairly raising the cost of an essential input. They key here is in determining what a fair price for API access is - Reddit is entitled to charge for access o their data but they are not entitled to charge a price that is excessive. I don’t know enough about commercial API pricing to venture a guess is $12,000/50 million requests is reasonable.

While this analysis relies on Australian law, the general thrust of ant-completion law is pretty universal.

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