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HomeLaw & PoliticsReddit Faces FTC Investigation Over AI Data Practices Amid IPO Preparations

Reddit Faces FTC Investigation Over AI Data Practices Amid IPO Preparations

Reddit, the popular social media platform, finds itself under the scrutiny of the United States Federal Trade Commission (FTC) over its data licensing practices for artificial intelligence (AI) training, a revelation made public through an amended Form S-1 registration statement with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission on March 15, 2024. This inquiry emerges as Reddit advances towards its much-anticipated initial public offering (IPO), highlighting the regulatory challenges the platform faces amidst the AI boom.

The FTC’s investigation, notified to Reddit just a day prior to the filing, doesn’t come as a surprise to the company. Reddit’s unique technology and business arrangements have drawn the agency’s attention, but the platform maintains its stance of innocence, denying any involvement in unfair or deceptive trade practices. This situation underscores the increasing regulatory attention on social media giants as they navigate the complex landscape of AI and user data usage.

Reddit’s engagement with the FTC is not without potential consequences. The company candidly acknowledges the uncertainties and possible prolonged nature of the investigation, foreseeing substantial costs, reputational harm, or even the need to modify or discontinue certain products or services. This regulatory engagement could divert significant resources and attention from Reddit’s core business operations, potentially impacting its financial health and growth prospects.

In a notable move to bolster its AI initiatives, Reddit entered into a $60 million annual agreement with Google in February, allowing the tech giant access to its vast user data for AI training purposes. This deal not only tightens Reddit’s relationship with Google but also raises concerns among privacy advocates and regulators about the implications of using user data in AI development.

Reddit’s foray into AI and its strategic investments in cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin, Ether, and Polygon for virtual transactions underscore its ambition to leverage emerging technologies. With projections indicating a $1 trillion global AI market by 2027, excluding China and Russia, Reddit aims to position itself at the forefront of this explosive growth. However, as regulations around AI and data usage evolve, Reddit’s journey towards harnessing these technologies while navigating the regulatory landscape remains a critical narrative in the tech industry’s ongoing dialogue on innovation, privacy, and governance.

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