Thu. Jun 13th, 2024

Key Takeaways

  • Meta is using your public Facebook posts, Instagram photos and captions, data from third-party services, and your chats with the Facebook AI chatbot to train its AI.
  • If you live in the UK or EU, you have the option to stop Meta from using your personal data.
  • As a US citizen or resident who does not belong to the UK or EU, you can only raise your voice against Meta using your information present on third-party platforms.

Meta and controversy go hand in hand. It wasn’t long ago that they were under fire for not limiting violent content and allowing fake news. They’re under fire again for using your Instagram and Facebook photos to train their AI models. Here’s everything you need to know about it.

One of the most popular Meta apps, Instagram, was launched as a platform to showcase your creativity and express yourself. You’ve probably posted many sweet memories there, as well as on Facebook, to share with your friends. Unfortunately, Meta will be using all your photos posted on these platforms to train its large language model and other AI tools.

Starting on June 26th, 2024, Meta will update its privacy policy to allow them to use your personal information on Meta-related services to train their AI. The news caused a stir after UK and EU users received notifications about this change.

Facebook notification about AI.

After the new policy takes effect, Meta will use your public Facebook posts, Instagram photos and captions, data from third-party services, and your chats with the Facebook AI chatbot to train its large language models (LLMs). They won’t use your private messages or anything you’ve posted privately.

This move isn’t entirely surprising, as AI models require data for training, and what better place for Meta to train its AI model than the data already present on its platform. However, as users, no one wants someone to use their information without their consent. That’s why Meta has provided an option for you to opt your data out of Meta’s AI training source. However, there are many restrictions in the opt-out process, and it’s currently limited to UK and EU users only.

Let’s talk about the main caveat in the opting-out process first—the option to opt your data out of Meta AI is only available to users in the United Kingdom (UK) and European Union (EU). And no, you can’t use a VPN to trick Meta into thinking you’re in one of those regions; it won’t work. This means that if you’re a US resident or live somewhere outside the UK and EU, Meta will use your data to train its AI models. We’ll discuss an alternative option you have later in the article.

The EU and UK have strong privacy laws called the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) that give you control over whether Meta can use your data. However, there’s no simple “one-click” option to do this.

Once you reach the Facebook help page to opt-out, you’ll need to enter details like your country, email address, the reason for opting out, and some additional information to support your request.

Facebook Help Center page.

After that, you’ll receive a one-time password (OTP) in your email that you’ll need to enter to confirm your decision.

OTP Screen on Facebook.

Once done, you’ll get a message stating that Meta will review your submission as soon as possible. This means it’s entirely up to Meta to decide whether to allow you to opt-out, which shouldn’t be the case according to GDPR.

Confirmation message from Facebook.

While Meta honors most objections and sends a confirmation email, many users have had their objections rejected. There’s no clear information on what factors Meta considers when making these decisions, but according to GDPR, they shouldn’t be rejecting any objections at all. In fact, because of denying users’ objections and violating GDPR law, NYOB has filed complaints in 11 European countries and has asked the authorities to initiate an investigation to stop this change immediately.

Mail from Facebook.

Even if you opt out of this program, there’s a slight chance Meta might still access posts related to you. For example, if your family or friends who haven’t opted out have shared a post that mentions you, then Meta can use that information. To eliminate this possibility, you would need to ask your relatives who have shared posts containing your information to also opt out of this program.

What’s the Best Thing You Can Do If You Don’t Live in the UK or EU

Unfortunately, unlike the European Union’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), there’s no strict privacy law in the US or other regions that compels Meta to offer an opt-out option for this program. These regions may create such a policy in the future, but for now, there’s one thing you can do yourself.

You can prevent Meta from using your personal information from other third-party platforms to train its AI. To do this, open the Instagram app, tap your profile icon, and then navigate to the hamburger icon > Settings and Privacy > Help > Help Center.

Help Center option in the Instagram Help window.

Under “Featured Topics,” choose “About AIs on Instagram.”

About AIs On Instagram option on Instagram Help page.

Select the link “How Meta uses information for generative AI models.”

How Meta Uses information For generative AI models link.

Under “Privacy and Generative AI,” click “Learn more and submit requests here.”

Learn more And summit request hyperlink on Meta help page.

Choose “I want to delete any personal information from third parties used for building and improving AI at Meta.” Then, once again, to make the process long-winded for you, Meta will ask you to answer a bunch of unnecessary questions. But that’s your only option, so fill out the details and then hit “Send.”

After you submit your objection, Meta will take some time to look into your case, and they’ll let you know by email whether your objection was approved.

That’s the best thing you can do on your end to prevent Meta from using your personal information to train its AI models. With more and more AI companies launching every day, you should be very careful when signing up for any online service. They might sell your data to larger companies to train their AI models.

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By John P.

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