Should I give Meta AI more access?

Should I give Meta AI more access?

Back in May, Meta started sending out emails informing European users of Facebook and Instagram that it plans to use their public information to develop its artificial intelligence tools.

Meta had been planning to launch its new privacy policy on June 26 – in the European Union and the eurozone, plus the UK, Switzerland, Iceland, Liechtenstein and Norway – but the rollout has been put on hold following objections from privacy watchdogs.

Under Meta’s plan, it would be able to use posts, photos, comments, likes and shares to develop its “collection of features and experiences related to generative AI, including Meta AI and creative AI tools, as well as the models that drive them.” These models are, for example, Meta’s chatbot, a rival of OpenAI’s ChatGPT, which operates with Llama 3, the next generation of the tech giant’s open-source large language model, which can generate conversation and images.

“It will do what it does in the same way it does now, but with the most state-of-the-art language models,” says Konstantinos Mourlas, a professor of media and communications and director of the Laboratory of New Technologies in Communication, Education and the Mass Media at Athens University, and coordinator of the “IQ Media” initiative.

“These platforms have always relied on recording our behavior to create a user profile and deliver a more personalized experience. They collect data that they then turn over to advertisers or anyone else, transforming the user into a product. In exchange, we are allowed to use these platforms for free,” he says.

Concerns about how the data will be used and the complicated process of opting out, outlined in the initial emails to European users, caused a furor among users of the company’s platforms, with a flood of posts also appearing on other popular platforms like X, Reddit and TikTok on the subject.

‘It will do what it does in the same way it does now, but with the most state-of-the-art language models’

It is worth noting that Meta AI is already tapping user data in the United States, as they do not have the same strict privacy laws as the EU, thanks to the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR).

For Mourlas and other experts, however, what it boils down to is connecting users to the content they enjoy and find useful.

“Without the profile that is created by collecting the user’s data, they would have to deal with such a massive volume of information, they would get lost in it. So, data collection is a filter that may be necessary, as it would be impossible to consume the information without it. It’s about targeted individualization. At the end of the day, it is always information we are after,” he tells Kathimerini.

That said, people’s fears about the expanding use of private – albeit “public” on the platforms – information are not without good reason.

“Personally, I am concerned and alarmed about how rapidly these large language models are being evolved and with the complexity of the usage and ‘packaging’ of the data being received by users,” says Mourlas.

“Even though I find the technology fascinating, the leaps it has made over the past year seem out of control, at least to us. At the same time, we don’t know where all this data from all these models is going,” he adds.

We asked the Athens University professor whether he will decline access to his private data if the issue comes up again soon.

“It’s a dilemma we will all come up against,” he says. “If we decide to continue providing all this information, the individualized experience will become even more individualized. If we opt out, this may change our experience. I would personally opt out and perhaps opt back in after I have seen what I have to gain or lose.”

The views and opinions expressed are those of the author and professor only and do not necessarily reflect those of the European Union or the European Education and Culture Executive Agency (EACEA). Neither the European Union nor EACEA can be held responsible for them. The above (action, publication, website etc) is co-funded by the European Union under the program “IQ Media: A collaborative framework towards business transformation, innovation, quality journalism, and advanced digital skills in the media environment covering Greece, Cyprus, France and Portugal,” with agreement No 101112285.

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