Facebook, Instagram are using your data to train AI: Learn how to protect it

Meta may have paused its plans to train artificial intelligence models for the lucky ones living in Europe, where laws protect people using Facebook and Instagram better than Americans. Here in the good ole USA, both Facebook and Instagram have already been combing through public posts from U.S. accounts to train and improve its AI capabilities, including its chatbot, since last year.

The proposed privacy policy update for European Union and U.K. users, originally scheduled for June 26, would have allowed Meta to use publicly shared content for AI training. However, users and regulatory agencies opposed this plan, leading to its indefinite postponement in those regions.

In contrast, Meta has been incorporating public data from U.S. accounts into its generative AI features without offering an opt-out option. But I’ve got some privacy tweaks for you to make on both social networks we will get to in a second.

We reached out to Meta, and a company spokesperson provided us with this statement: “Across the internet, public information is being used to train AI. This is not unique to our services. We’re committed to building AI responsibly and believe it’s important that people understand how we train the models that power our generative AI product.”


Facebook account on a smartphone (Kurt “CyberGuy” Knutsson)

What you need to know about Meta’s AI training

AI chatbots and other large language models, such as those creating images, use your personal data for training. Companies like Google and OpenAI trained their AI models using data shared on the internet. It’s important to note that these companies did not feed your social media data directly to AI. Instead, they relied on data posted by publishers and small websites. They also made agreements with large publishers and companies like News Corp and Reddit to use their content legally.

However, Meta’s AI training is different. The company will use every personal detail of your life that you posted publicly. This includes photos and videos in your feed and captions on your posts and Reels. Meta can only use this information if you have a public account. Private accounts, Facebook and Instagram stories, and Threads data will be spared. Meta says it also doesn’t use anything from private, direct messaging on Facebook and Instagram, even for people with public accounts.

Users in the U.S. and other countries without national data privacy laws don’t have a sure way to stop Meta from using their data to train AI. Interestingly, people in the U.S. might never have known that Meta is using their personal data to train AI if it weren’t for the European Union (EU). The EU has laws that make companies disclose how they get, use and keep data – and offer opt-outs. Because of these laws, Meta had to email EU users about the policy change.


How to stop Meta from using your data to train AI

You can’t stop Meta from training its AI on your personal data unless you make your Facebook or Instagram account private. The other option to stop the social media giant from using your personal data is to delete your public posts. Deleting stuff might be a little too much, but below, I show you how to make your account private on both Instagram and Facebook.

If you have a Facebook account:

Open your Facebook account on your phone or computer. Note: I am using my phone for this tutorial.

  • Select the Menu
  • Tap Settings & privacy
  • Select Settings
2 The countdown is on for Metas AI to use your data – What you can do to protect yourself facebook

Steps to stop Meta’s AI from training with your data (Kurt “CyberGuy” Knutsson)

  • Scroll to where it says Audience and visibility
  • Click Posts
  • Then select an option other than Public, such as Friends or Only Me
3 The countdown is on for Metas AI to use your data – What you can do to protect yourself data

Steps to stop Meta’s AI from training with your data (Kurt “CyberGuy” Knutsson)

If you have an Instagram account:

  • Select the profile tab in the bottom right
  • Tap the three lines in the top right corner to open Settings and activity
4 The countdown is on for Metas AI to use your data – What you can do to protect yourself instagram

Steps to stop Meta’s AI from training with your data (Kurt “CyberGuy” Knutsson)

  • Tap Account privacy and toggle your account to private so it appears blue
5 The countdown is on for Metas AI to use your data – What you can do to protect yourself data

Steps to stop Meta’s AI from training with your data (Kurt “CyberGuy” Knutsson)


How to remove data from the internet

While you can stop Meta from using your data by making your account private, other tech companies can still use your publicly available data. Invest in a data removal service to remove your data online. No service promises to remove all your data from the internet, but having a removal service is great if you want to constantly monitor and automate the process of removing your information from hundreds of sites continuously over a longer period. Remove your personal data from the internet with my top picks here.

Kurt’s key takeaway

Tech companies are chasing after your data to get ahead in the AI race. Google already uses data from multiple platforms to train its AI, and OpenAI was one of the first to do this. Meta wants in on the action by using your Facebook and Instagram posts. This isn’t fair, and U.S. users should have the same control over their data as those in the EU. It’s time for the government to introduce stricter data protection laws to stop big tech giants from exploiting Americans’ data.

Would you consider making your social media accounts private to prevent companies like Meta from using your data? Let us know by writing us at Cyberguy.com/Contact.

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