What This News Means
This has all the hallmarks of Musk’s modus operandi. Collect massive amounts of personal data, toss it into an AI blender, and see what emerges on the other side. Musk has already declared his intention to make X an “everything app” along the lines of the Chinese app WeChat. So collecting biometrics and resume-level details on users fits the pattern.
Specifically, the X policy change is found in section 2.1 and reads as follows:
We may use the information we collect and publicly available information to help train our machine learning or artificial intelligence models for the purposes outlined in this policy.
Why This Matters
But why does a social media platform need to delve into developing AI in the first place? This is where Musk’s endgame comes into focus. He also owns an AI company called xAI, which likely lacks the troves of data needed to train robust AI models. Musk has essentially admitted that X user data could provide the missing fuel to supercharge xAI’s AI research.
Musk’s grand plan is to make X an AI company with a side hustle in social media. He basically confirmed this in a X post defending the changes, saying X will only use “public data, not DMs or anything private.” But that still leaves a vast pool of tweets, bios, likes, shares, and more that X’s AI algorithms can feast on.
Privacy Policies Don’t Protect User Privacy
What’s troubling is that X users never agreed to become lab rats and Guinea pigs for Musk’s AI dreams. They signed up to post their opinions and share cat videos, not to train experimental algorithms. X just moved the goalposts without meaningful consent, as tech firms often do in ever-shifting privacy policies.
This highlights the stark power imbalance between platforms and users. X can unilaterally declare it will psychoanalyze your speech patterns and behavior for AI research. But users have little recourse except venting outrage or leaving the platform. Both options ultimately serve X’s goal of maximizing and monetizing user engagement.
Musk has also shown his willingness to leverage his platform power for political and ideological ends. He could nudge X’s AI models to amplify certain voices and perspectives. This raises profound questions about how AI could warp social media even further away from its original promise.
In the end, are X users content-generators or data-generators in Musk’s eyes? Does he see them as free digital laborers working to perfect his grand AI ambitions? For now, Musk holds all the cards and users have little say in how their data is used and abused. As X continues its growth, lets hope Musk’s hunger for AI doesn’t consume the free and open web many still wish to preserve.
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