Slack Criticized for Using Customer Data for AI Training 

Slack AI is facing criticism from its users, expressing their frustration for using customers’ data to train its AI services. 

Slack is facing criticism from its users, expressing their frustration for using customers’ data to train its AI services. 

Like many other tech companies, Slack takes advantage of its users’ data to develop new AI services. However, in case users refuse the use of their data, they must send an email to the company.  

The act itself is considered an outdated and relatively misleading privacy policy, that no one was paying attention to. Then, at some point, one user put it back on the spotlight by sharing it on a popular community site, leading it to go viral. 

It all started on Hacker News when a user shared a direct link related to Slack’s privacy principles without adding any comment on the matter, leading to extensive discussions between users. Some of them knew for the first time that the task management platform automatically integrates their data in its AI training program. 

According to Slack’s spokesperson, the company uses customers’ data to train “global models” for channel and emoji recommendations, and search results. The source also emphasized that the usage of such data has specific limits, and the models are not trained in a way that makes them unable to learn, memorize, or reproduce customer data. 

Despite assuring them, the platform users are still confused about how much this data is used, as well as the company’s plans for AI training. 

Conversely, Slack stated that users that users who refuse data training will have access to its globally trained AI or machine learning (ML) models, but it is until now not clear why customers data is required for features, such as emoji recommendations. 

The California-based company also asserted that Slack AI, a separately purchased add-on does not leverage from customers data to train large language models (LLMs). Instead, it uses LLMs that are within Slack’s infrastructure to ensure customer data remains in-house and is not shared with any LLM provider. 

Commenting on the criticism, Slack engineer Aaron Maurer confirmed the company has to update the page related to the privacy policy in a way that clarifies its relationship with Slack AI. He also explained that the terms of Slack’s privacy were written before establishing Slack AI, and they primarily tackle search recommendation features. 

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