Slack’s Sneaky A.I. Training Policy

Corey Quinn:

I’m sorry Slack, you’re doing fucking WHAT with user DMs, messages, files, etc? I’m positive I’m not reading this correctly.

[Screenshot of the opt out portion of Slack’s “privacy principles”: Contact us to opt out. If you want to exclude your Customer Data from Slack global models, you can opt out. […] ]

Slack replied:

Hello from Slack! To clarify, Slack has platform-level machine-learning models for things like channel and emoji recommendations and search results. And yes, customers can exclude their data from helping train those (non-generative) ML models. Customer data belongs to the customer. We do not build or train these models in such a way that they could learn, memorize, or be able to reproduce some part of customer data. […]

One thing I like about this statement is how the fifth word is “clarify” and then it becomes confusing. Based on my reading of its “privacy principles”, I think Slack’s “global model” is so named because it is available to everyone and is a generalist machine learning model for small in-workspace suggestions, while its LLM is called “Slack AI” and it is a paid add-on. But I could be wrong, and that is confusing as hell.

Ivan Mehta and Ingrid Lunden, TechCrunch:

In its terms, Slack says that if customers opt out of data training, they would still benefit from the company’s “globally trained AI/ML models.” But again, in that case, it’s not clear then why the company is using customer data in the first place to power features like emoji recommendations.

The company also said it doesn’t use customer data to train Slack AI.

If you want to opt out, you cannot do so in a normal way, like through a checkbox. The workspace owner needs to send an email to a generic inbox with a specific subject line. Let me make it a little easier for you:


Subject: Slack Global model opt-out request.

Body: Hey, your privacy principles are pretty confusing and feel sneaky. I am opting this workspace out of training your global model: [paste your address here]. This underhanded behaviour erodes my trust in your product. Have a pleasant day.

That ought to do the trick.