After Reddit, WordPress to share user data with AI companies OpenAI and Midjourney

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Key notes

  • Tumblr and WordPress.com were accused of sharing user data with AI companies OpenAI and Midjourney.
  • Concerns were raised about user privacy and whether informed consent was obtained.
  • Automattic claims only public data will be shared and respects user opt-out choices.

Tumblr and WordPress.com, two widely used online platforms owned by Automattic, are criticized over reports suggesting they planned to share user data with AI companies OpenAI and Midjourney.

According to a recent report by 404 Media, Automattic allegedly compiled a significant amount of user data, potentially including private content, from both platforms. This data was reportedly intended to be used by OpenAI and Midjourney to train their AI models. The news has sparked concerns about user privacy and whether informed consent was obtained for sharing data.

Automattic has since issued a statement addressing these concerns. They maintain that only publicly available content will be shared, and user opt-out preferences will be respected. Additionally, they are developing a system to notify their partners about users who opt out and request the removal of their data from past training sets and future use.

However, several questions remain unanswered. The data types involved in the alleged sharing haven’t been fully disclosed. Furthermore, it’s unclear whether this data-sharing agreement also affects self-hosted WordPress sites using Automattic plugins like JetPack. Additionally, while Automattic claims it will notify partners about users who opt out and request data removal, they haven’t provided any guarantees regarding the effectiveness of this process or the ability to truly delete data retroactively.

This incident highlights a growing trend within the tech industry. Several online platforms have recently entered into similar agreements with AI companies. Last week, Reddit announced an “AI content licensing deal” with Google, indicating their intention to “monetize” their user base by allowing user-generated content to be used in training AI models. Additionally, in 2023, Shutterstock signed a six-year deal with OpenAI to provide training data.

As the use of AI continues to grow, concerns surrounding data privacy and user consent are becoming increasingly important. Users are advised to stay informed about their data privacy rights and the practices of the platforms they utilize. They should also carefully review the terms and conditions associated with these platforms and adjust their privacy settings accordingly.

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