WordPress & Tumblr Planning to Sell User Content to AI Companies

The Controversy Surrounding AI Training with User Content

The report indicates that there is internal conflict within Automattic regarding the use of scraped content for AI training. Some of this content includes private information not intended for storage by the company. Furthermore, advertising content, including materials from external campaigns like an old Apple Music promotion, has found its way into the training datasets. This situation has raised ethical and legal questions about the boundaries of data usage and ownership.

The Rise of Generative AI and its Implications

Generative AI has seen significant growth since the launch of ChatGPT by OpenAI in late 2022. This technology, which learns from vast amounts of data to create original content such as videos, images, and text, has faced criticism from major publishers. Allegations of copyright infringement and concerns about fair use have led to legal challenges, highlighting the complexities of using data for AI training.

Automattic’s Response and User Control

In response to these developments, Automattic plans to introduce a new setting that allows users to opt out of having their content used for AI training. While this move aims to give users more control over their data, questions remain about the default status of this setting and its practical implications for users. Competitors like Squarespace have already implemented similar opt-out features, reflecting a growing trend in the industry towards user empowerment.

Automattic’s Stance on AI and User Preferences

In a blog post addressing these concerns, Automattic emphasized the transformative impact of AI on content creation and consumption. The company stressed its commitment to a free and open web, individual choice, and user privacy. While acknowledging the absence of legal mandates for honoring user preferences, Automattic positioned its actions as aligning with industry best practices to respect user decisions regarding AI training.

Ensuring User Control and Data Protection

Automattic pledged to uphold user opt-out preferences and promised to inform partners of new opt-outs to ensure the removal of content from past sources and future training datasets. By prioritizing user control and data protection, Automattic aims to navigate the evolving landscape of AI technologies while safeguarding user interests and content ownership.

In conclusion, the intersection of AI training, user content, and privacy presents complex challenges for tech companies like Automattic. By offering users greater control over how their data is used for AI training, Automattic seeks to strike a balance between technological innovation and user empowerment in an increasingly AI-driven world.

About David Damstra

Business Leader and Business Developer, Project Manager and Full Stack Developer & Designer Creative Director, Brand Guardian, Minister of Company Culture Co-Author of Professional WordPress. Currently in Third Edition. Seasoned web developer using practical technology to rapidly create standards compliant dynamic websites. Experienced with web development, software development and systems and network management and consulting.