WordPress and Tumblr To Sell User Content To Train The Bots In Deal With OpenAI

WordPress and Tumblr To Sell User Content To Train The Bots In Deal With OpenAI by Rudy Sanchez on 02/29/2024 | 2 Minute Read You can attribute part of the growth of the web to developers creating software and platforms that are freely accessible. Of course, writing code and hosting billions of users’ content isn’t free. Still, web firms figured they could monetize users by selling data and serving them ads. At its peak, microblogging platform Tumblr was acquired by Yahoo! For $1.1 billion, a long way from its initial $3 million valuation. Tumblr’s anonymity and aversion to selling advertising attracted a large user base of artists, designers, and other creatives, including Taylor Swift. To make Tumblr profitable, Yahoo! tried implementing changes to make the platform more advertiser-friendly, like introducing filters that would remove explicit content, but the effort was ultimately in vain. Tumblr was sold to Verizon in 2017, then was acquired by software developer Automattic for the original $3 million valuation in 2019. Automattic, which also owns the popular Content Management System (CMS) and WordPress, has yet to give up on Tumblr. However, its latest strategy for monetization might prove just as unpopular with users as the banning of porn and the introduction of ads. According to a story by 404 Media, internal Automattic documents reviewed confirm that it has been in discussions with OpenAI, the parent company of Midjourney, on a deal that would allow AI tools to train on existing Tumblr and WordPress-hosted content. Users can choose to opt out of having their content scrapped and used by OpenAI, though documents characterize the process of opting out as a “request” that Automattic is confident will be respected. Following 404 Media’s story, Automattic released a statement confirming some details, in which it says its priorities are attribution, opt-outs, and control. Automattic’s statement points out that no laws compel AI companies from respecting no-crawling requests at the moment but will work with AI companies that are “aligned” with its values. WordPress self-hosted CMS software users’ websites don’t appear part of the OpenAI deal. However, it remains unclear how data shared by these websites with Automattic via popular plug-ins like JetPack will be affected. Automattic’s AI training deal follows news that the social media website Reddit, which has a community generally hostile to advertisers similar to Tumblr, has also agreed to provide content to an artificial intelligence developer, Google, valued at $60 million a year. Artificial intelligence might be the defining technology of the next era of the web (sorry, NFTs). One thing that remains the same as the ad-revenue age, of course, is that if users aren’t paying for the product, they are the product, and web firms will use AI to generate revenue.

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