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Can I Opt Out of Meta’s A.I. Scraping on Instagram and Facebook? Sort Of.

Can I Opt Out of Meta’s A.I. Scraping on Instagram and Facebook? Sort Of.


Last month, Meta announced that it was going to expand its artificial intelligence services around the world, and the company let users in Europe know that it would use their public information to train its A.I. services starting on June 26.

The notifications sent to users of Facebook and Instagram in Europe, letting them know that their public posts could be used to train the A.I. services, including Meta’s chatbot, prompted privacy concerns and backlash as users wondered where the policy change would next be in effect.

But for those living in the United States, where online privacy laws are not as strict, Meta A.I. has already been using public posts to train its A.I. It’s unclear where else Meta might expand the program.

Privacy watchdogs have raised concerns about the data usage, and a lack of specifics about what Meta will do with people’s information. But Meta says it is complying with privacy laws, and that the information it is gathering will make services more relevant to the users in a given region.

Here’s what to know about Meta’s A.I. chatbot and how you can opt out of sharing your information.

Meta A.I. is a smart assistant software powered by artificial intelligence, available on apps including Facebook, WhatsApp and Instagram — it can be used in feeds, chat and search. Similar to OpenAI’s ChatGPT, Apple’s Siri or Amazon’s Alexa, it is designed to respond to almost any prompt a user gives it.

For example, you might ask: Who’s the greatest tennis player of all time?

“The eternal debate!” Meta A.I. responded to that query. “While opinions may vary, many experts and fans consider Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic to be among the greatest tennis players of all time.”

Meta A.I. is powered by LLaMA 3, the company’s new and powerful large language model, an A.I. technology that can conduct conversations and create images.

The announcement to European users sparked some backlash on Reddit, Tiktok and Twitter, including in the U.S., where Meta was not required to notify users — and therefore users may not have realized — that it had been training its A.I. with their public posts.

When asked, the smart assistant said it learned from “a massive data set of text” online. The information came from web pages, books, articles and research papers. But some of the data set also came from social media posts — including Facebook and Instagram posts, Meta A.I. said, adding that its training came from “anonymized and aggregated” data.

On a page about its generative A.I. features, Meta said photos and text from public posts on Instagram and Facebook were used to train its generative A.I. models, but that private posts and private messages were not used. Users’ prompts for the A.I. features are also fair game.

A spokesperson for Meta — and its chatbot — did not specify exactly how the public information was being used other than to “build and improve A.I. experiences.” It is not clear when Meta began to scrape data from users based in the U.S.

For Meta users in the U.S., there isn’t a way to stop Meta A.I. from learning from your public social media posts, as there are no privacy laws specific to this.

“While we don’t currently have an opt-out feature, we’ve built in-platform tools that allow people to delete their personal information from chats with Meta A.I. across our apps,” Meta said in a statement on Friday.

Those using Meta apps within the European Union, Britain, the European Economic Area and Switzerland were notified that they could opt out, according to Meta.

Visit the Meta Privacy Center from your Facebook account, click on “data settings” and then click “off-Facebook activity.” Then select “manage your data” and turn off “data sharing,” as well as “A.I. model training.”

In E.U. countries, users will also see “G.D.P.R. settings.” From there, users can click on “exercise my rights,” and submit a request to opt out. Users also must give a reason for opting out.

On Instagram, users can tap on “settings,” then “about,” and then “privacy policy,” which will lead to information on Meta A.I. and how to opt out.

In Facebook’s legal terms, that company says that “if you share a photo on Facebook, you give us permission to store, copy, and share it with others.” Depending on your settings, that photo can be used for other Meta products, according to the company.

In Europe, even with the opt-out feature Meta introduced to comply with privacy laws, watchdog groups have raised concerns about the sweeping nature of the data usage.

The European Center for Digital Rights, known as NOYB (None of Your Business), filed complaints in several European countries about Meta’s policy change.

“Meta doesn’t say what it will use the data for, so it could either be a simple chatbot, extremely aggressive personalized advertising or even a killer drone,” Max Schrems, the chairman and founder of NOYB, said in a news release.





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