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Why Reddit’s new content policy is a big win for your privacy


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Reddit has introduced a new public content policy that lays out a framework for how partners and third parties can access user-posted content on its site. This policy will apply alongside the site’s existing privacy policy, which covers how Reddit handles private user data, and its current content policy, which covers what sort of content is allowed on the platform.

In a win for user privacy, the new policy dramatically limits what outside parties can do with the content users post.  

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“We believe in the open internet,” an announcement about the policy begins. “We also believe that privacy is a right.”

The post explains that more and more companies are using unsavory means to access user data in bulk, including Reddit posts. Once a company gets this data, there’s no limit to what it can do with it.

Reddit will continue to block “bad actors” that use unauthorized methods to get data, the company says, but it’s taking additional steps to keep users safe from the site’s partners.

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Reddit’s new public content policy has six main points: 

  • The site requires partners to uphold the privacy of Redditors, including users’ decisions to delete their own content and any content that Reddit removes for violating its content policy.
  • Partners cannot use content to identify individuals or connect their personal information for any reason, including ad targeting.
  • Partners cannot use Reddit content to spam or harass users.
  • Partners cannot use content on Reddit to conduct a background check, apply facial recognition software, conduct government surveillance — or help law enforcement do any of these things.
  • Partners cannot access public content that includes adult media.
  • Reddit doesn’t sell the personal information of users.

Reddit adds that it will never license or distribute any content that isn’t public — such as private messages or Modmail — and will never reveal any non-public account information such as email address and browsing history.

Reddit still supports using its data for research: It’s creating a new subreddit — r/reddit4researchers — to support these initiatives, and partnering with OpenMined to help improve research. Private data is, however, going to stay private.

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If a company wants to use Reddit data for commercial purposes, including advertising or training AI, it will have to pay. Reddit made this clear by saying, “If you’re interested in using Reddit data to power, augment, or enhance your product or service for any commercial purposes, we require a contract.”

To be clear, Reddit is still selling users’ data — it’s just making sure that unscrupulous actors have a tougher time accessing that data for free and researchers have an easier time finding what they need.

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