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European users alerted that Meta will use public posts to train AI

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Facebook and Instagram’s parent company will soon use public posts “to help develop and improve AI,” European users were told.

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A new message appeared for European users of Instagram and Facebook mobile applications this month, informing them that their public posts could be used to train artificial intelligence (AI) from June 26. 

The information used could include posts, photos, captions and messages sent to an AI but not the content of private messages, Instagram’s help centre said.

Parent company Meta said in a statement last week that they would begin notifying people in the UK and EU about how they will use “public information they have shared on Meta’s products and services to develop and improve AI at Meta within their respective privacy laws”.

Is this GDPR compliant?

A company or an organisation can process personal data when it has grounds of “legitimate interest,” according to the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR).

Meta mentioned this legal basis, adding the data would be used “to develop and improve AI”.

It is possible to opt-out of having your data used this way by filing a form with Facebook – which is currently unavailable – or Instagram

“We’ll review objection requests in accordance with relevant data protection laws. If your request is honoured, it will be applied going forward,” the forms stated.

Despite the possibility of opting out, your data could still be used by Meta if you appear in an image someone shared or are mentioned in another user’s posts or captions.

The Irish Data Protection Commission (DPC) told Euronews Next that “Meta delayed the launch following a number [of] enquiries from the DPC which have been addressed”. 

Meta gave users four weeks’ notice ahead of the initial training, the DPC said.

The tech company also advised the DPC that “only that personal data (posts not comments) shared by users based in the EU to a public audience on Instagram and Facebook at the time of training will be used and that this will not include personal data from accounts belonging to users under 18”.

Push for AI

Meta has said it is investing “aggressively” to support AI research and product development efforts, according to a press release from last month.

The company has its own large language model (LLM) called Llama, the latest version of which (Llama 3) was released in April and is used to power its assistant Meta AI which isn’t available in Europe yet. 

Meta already used Instagram and Facebook posts – from public profiles – to train the assistant, according to Reuters.

However, this information wasn’t included in the dataset which fueled Llama 2.

The company is also working on the infrastructure necessary for AI workloads and introduced last month its custom-made chips.

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