Meta’s Plan to Use User Data for AI Training Sparks European Outcry

Meta’s Plan to Use User Data for AI Training Sparks European Outcry

Meta, the parent company of Facebook and Instagram, is facing backlash from digital rights groups over its plan to use personal data, including public posts and images from its platforms, to train its AI tools. Meta recently informed users in the UK and Europe that, starting June 26, publicly shared information could be used to “develop and improve” its AI products. This includes posts, images, captions, comments, and Stories but excludes private messages.

The European advocacy group NOYB (None of Your Business) has criticized Meta’s move, filing complaints with data protection authorities in 11 countries, including Austria, Belgium, France, and Germany. NOYB claims that Meta’s use of years’ worth of user content constitutes an “abuse of personal data for AI.” The group has urged regulators to intervene and halt Meta’s plans, emphasizing that the changes contravene the EU’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR).

Meta, however, maintains that its approach complies with privacy laws and is similar to practices adopted by other major tech firms. The company insists that its use of public user data is essential for training AI systems to reflect the diverse cultures and languages of European communities. In a blog post from May 22, Meta stated that such data would enhance the rollout of its generative AI features, which include chatbots and image generators.

Read Also: Meta Expands Meta AI Services to Nigeria and 11 Other Countries

Individuals, including NOYB founder Max Schrems, argue that Meta should seek explicit user consent rather than relying on a complex opt-out process. Users who wish to object must utilize a form explaining how the data processing affects them, a process Schrems describes as “highly awkward” and potentially dissuasive.

Schrems has also pointed out that the European Court of Justice has previously ruled against similar uses of user data by Meta for advertising purposes, questioning the legitimacy of the company’s current approach.

Meta’s policy shift has drawn attention to issues of data privacy and the ethical use of personal information in AI development. The Irish Data Protection Commission, which oversees Meta’s compliance with EU laws, has acknowledged receiving complaints from NOYB and is investigating the matter.

Read Also: Nvidia Surpasses Apple with $3.01 Trillion Market Cap in AI Surge


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