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Shelly Palmer - Slack users beware!

It's time to read the privacy policy for every piece of software you use.
Evidently, Slack has been scanning user messages to train its AI models.

Greetings from Terminal C at LGA. I'm heading to Orlando to keynote and lead some AI training workshops at Marriott's Engineering and Facilities Conference.

In the news: Evidently, Slack (my favorite corporate comms app) has been scanning user messages to train its AI models. The issue was highlighted in a recent tweet from Corey Quinn. You can read Slack's strangely worded AI policy here, but it basically says that all Slack users are automatically opted in to its AI training unless the corporate system administrator opts out for your whole company. In other words: individual users cannot opt out by themselves.

Before we go into how messed up this is, here's what Salesforce (Slack's parent company) says to do: "To opt out, please have your Org or Workspace Owners or Primary Owner contact our Customer Experience team at [email protected] with your Workspace/Org URL and the subject line 'Slack Global model opt-out request.' We will process your request and respond once the opt out has been completed."

I don't know how long Slack has been doing this, and I don't know how much data they have taken from users. The privacy policy is confusing and poorly written, so your guess is as good as mine. Hopefully, someone at Slack will clarify this situation sooner than later.

In practice, AI model builders need vast amounts of data to train on. Proprietary data is far more valuable than public data since most available public data has already been scraped. What can you do to protect yourself and your company? For starters, read the fine print. It's time to read the privacy policy for every piece of software you use. Search the terms: start with AI, artificial intelligence, and training. Then, read carefully. You may be surprised at what you find.

As always your thoughts and comments are both welcome and encouraged. Just reply to this email. -s

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Shelly Palmer is the Professor of Advanced Media in Residence at Syracuse University’s S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications and CEO of The Palmer Group, a consulting practice that helps Fortune 500 companies with technology, media and marketing. Named LinkedIn’s “Top Voice in Technology,” he covers tech and business for Good Day New York, is a regular commentator on CNN and writes a popular daily business blog. He's a bestselling author, and the creator of the popular, free online course, Generative AI for Execs. Follow @shellypalmer or visit