Reddit is now forcing ad personalization – you can’t opt out

Reddit says it’s proud that it requires very little personal information from its users. How about personal choice, though? The social network is now removing the ability to opt out of ad personalization.

Among the various changes to ad personalization and privacy preferences that Reddit has announced, the most notable said that the platform was “removing the ability to opt out of ad personalization based on your Reddit activity, except in select countries.”

This means that Reddit no longer allows you to decide not to see ads that are tailored to your actions on the site. Moreover, the site says that the change will be beneficial to all.

“Reddit requires very little personal information, and we like it that way. Our advertisers instead rely on on-platform activity – what communities you join, leave, upvotes, downvotes, and other signals – to get an idea of what you might be interested in,” says a post by Reddit’s head of privacy Jutta Williams.

“The vast majority of Redditors will see no change to their ads on Reddit. For users who previously opted out of personalization based on Reddit activity, this change will not result in seeing more ads or sharing on-platform activity with advertisers. It does enable our models to better predict which ad may be most relevant to you.”

Previous ad personalization options at Reddit. Courtesy of Reddit.

The caveat that the change is not being rolled out in “select countries” might be important, though.

Ad personalization options at Reddit now. Courtesy of Reddit.

Reddit is not listing the countries, but it’s entirely possible that they are states in the European Union because the change may violate the General Data Protection Regulation. The EU has fined tech firms for GDPR infractions numerous times already.

The social network also said it will also allow users to limit certain advertising categories such as alcohol, weight loss, dating, gambling pregnancy, and parenting.

However, Reddit noted that ad-limiting controls won’t possibly filter out all ads because the company is utilizing “a combination of manual tagging and machine learning” to classify the ads.

Reddit has recently made several changes to increase monetization. Not all of them were welcome – changes to Reddit’s data API (Application Programming Interface) made many third-party clients shut down, and Redditors protested in retaliation.

In 2021, Reddit said it was hoping to go public by 2023. However, analysts say the company is now worth less than the $15 billion it had hoped for.

In contrast, OpenAI’s valuation likely reached $29 billion in January 2023, and in a sale of existing shares, the company is seeking a new valuation of up to $90 billion, Reuters reported this week.

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