Stack Overflow Faces Backlash Over Selling User Data to OpenAI

Stack Overflow Faces Backlash Over Selling User Data to OpenAI
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Stack Overflow, the popular programming Q&A site, has sparked outrage among its user community after announcing a partnership to sell forum data, including user posts, to OpenAI to train ChatGPT. Many developers are now attempting to edit or delete their contributions to protest having their work used for commercial AI training without consent.

However, Stack Overflow moderators have been issuing bans to users who try to remove their posts, citing site policies that claim an “irrevocable license” over user-generated content. One banned user, a UI programmer at Epic Games, criticized the move, asking “Why does OpenAI get to profit from our work?”

The contentious data sale highlights concerns around tech companies exploiting user data for AI model training. Some argue it violates EU data protection laws giving users rights over their personal data, while Stack Overflow claims preserving its community knowledge base takes precedence.

Moderators defended the bans, stating that even if no longer useful to the original author, the posts still benefit others facing similar issues – the underlying philosophy of Stack Exchange sites. However, critics argue this principle is being misused to quash valid user objections to the commercialization of their freely contributed work.

The controversy points to wider issues around consent, ownership, and ethics as AI companies look to hoover up training data, even from public sites built on user-generated content. As more deals like this emerge, the outcry from creators having their work repurposed for corporate AI could intensify.

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