Slack Faces User Backlash Over AI Data Training, Updates Privacy Policies

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Key Takeaways

  • Slack updated its privacy principles after backlash over using customer data for AI training without consent.
  • The revised policy states Slack will not use customer data to train third-party AI models or share data with LLM providers.
  • Despite updates, users criticize the default opt-in policy and the unclear opt-out process for data usage.

Salesforce-owned team communication platform Slack has recently updated its privacy principles in response to user backlash.

The controversy arose when some users claimed Slack used customer data to train its AI models by default without obtaining user consent.

The users found that Slack’s privacy principles allowed the team messaging service to analyze customer data for AI training unless instructed not to. This meant practically everything shared in Slack channels, including messages and files, could be used for AI model training.

The implications of this policy raised concerns among users, who voiced their criticisms. In response, Slack assured that data would not leak across workspaces, although it did admit that its global models used customer data, The Register reported.

Slack has now revised its privacy principles to appease the outrage to clarify its stance on data usage. The updated principles read in part:

“No Customer Data is used to train third-party LLM models. Slack does not train LLMs or other generative models on Customer Data, or share Customer Data with any LLM providers.”

Despite this update to its privacy principles, many users still believe the measure is insufficient as it did not clarify why users are automatically made to agree to the data usage policy. Slack requires the workspace owner to email its customer experience team to opt out.

However, it does not indicate how long the opt-out process will take for customers who do not want their data used in the training of Slack’s models.

Registering his criticism on X, popular author and engineer Gergely Orosz questioned Slack’s decision to opt in users by default, including companies who pay for the platform rather than seeking consent.

While Slack’s prompt response to user outrage and its revised policies demonstrate a willingness to address concerns, many argue for an opt-in system that gives customers more control over whether or not they want to opt into Slack’s data usage policy.