Your Reddit life is being sold to fuel AI, destroying the platform’s purpose

Reddit logos plastered over various robots from Terminator franchise
Credit: Reddit / Skydance Media

Reddit logos plastered over various robots from Terminator franchise
Credit: Reddit / Skydance Media

Reddit hasn't been making the greatest moves to help users in recent years. After forcing third-party apps to either spend a fortune on API access or lose out, causing plenty of subreddits to shutdown in protest, it seems like the company is attempting to annoy its userbase at every turn possible. And now, it's made even more obvious.

While plenty of users took to the r/Place event last year to share their disgust at Reddit's money-hungry attitude, the company moved forward, steadfast by its disgruntled users. Beloved apps like Apollo seemingly disappeared overnight, and while it may have been forgotten by the majority of users, no one forgives the company.

However, Reddit is seemingly making another poor decision for users, but a great one for the shareholders. According to a new report from Bloomberg, Reddit Inc. has signed an annualised contract to allow an unnamed company to train its AI models to use Reddit's data at the tune of $60 million a year. This means 18 years worth of user posts, comments, and other content could be scraped and used to train an AI.

Considering that Reddit also jumped on the NFT trend, with collectible avatars still available despite companies like GameStop halting its NFT marketplace, as well as Reddit partnering with the FTX company, it's no surprise that Reddit is jumping on the next big trend of AI. However, while NFTs were easy to avoid, the AI scraping everything shared by users will certainly be harder to forget.

While Reddit does receive a lot of negative attention, it's arguably one of the most useful social media platforms available. There's a huge amount of niche subreddits, spanning years of content and support-like queries, that is useful to this day. I've found it 10x more helpful to search a query on Google and add "Reddit" to the end to find what people have said rather than a random site. Knowing an unnamed AI will be scraping this content is, at best, disappointing, and at worse, a sign of things to come.

Of course, AI can be extremely useful. Galaxy AI's features have plenty of amazing tools that can make your day-to-day life easier, for example. But, for every great thing AI is capable of, there's the potential of AI like the OpenAI Sora, which creates life-like videos that could be used for nefarious purposes. Having millions of posts granted to an autonomous AI would be bad enough, but one in the hands of a corporation looking to make more money? That's even worse.

An AI with all of Reddit's data for training could lead to great things. That niche community that's slowly died off and fizzled out? Well, the AI could have answer any questions you need from what Reddit posts there are, as well as put it into context from other sources like websites, forums, or videos. That being said, I just can't shake the feeling that it's not right to use people's passion for sharing on Reddit as a way to fuel an AI.

A soulless algorithm can't recreate the feeling of a community. Sure, you could ask the AI "what are the best graphics cards right now?", and it would give you a great idea. But a Reddit post with a passionate community will give you way more insight, context, and interesting debate that an AI just... can't relate to.

I'm hoping that this move is to benefit the future of AI and technology as a whole, but considering Reddit's recent decisions that seem anti-user, I wouldn't be surprised if this was another corporate move to further alienate consistent users of the platform, solely to make shareholders happy. At the very least, we were there when Reddit was great.

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