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Report: Reddit’s Ad Personalization Policy Sparks Privacy Concerns

Reddit reportedly altered its privacy policy to improve ad performance.

While these updates align with the social media platform’s goals of financial success and potential plans to go public, they have generated controversy among users and raised concerns about user privacy, Ars Technica reported Thursday (Sept. 28).

Reached by PYMNTS, a Reddit spokesperson shared a link to a post on the platform made by the company’s head of privacy. The post notified users of changes to ad personalization, privacy preferences and location settings, saying, The aim is to simplify our privacy descriptions, improve ad performance and offer new controls for the types of ads you prefer not to see.

One of the most controversial changes is Reddit’s decision to prevent users from opting out of personalized ads, except for select countries, according to the report.

The change aims to leverage user data, such as community participation, upvotes, downvotes and other signals, to deliver more relevant advertisements, the report said. However, the move has sparked concerns among users who value their privacy controls. The exclusion of specific countries from this change has left users uncertain about the extent of their privacy.

To address some of the concerns, Reddit has introduced another change to its privacy policy, per the report. Users now have the option to see fewer ads related to alcohol, dating, gambling, pregnancy and parenting, and weight loss. However, Reddit said the accuracy of its ad classification system may not be perfect initially, so users who have selected this option may continue to see some of these ads, but improvements are expected over time.

Reddit announced in August that it was launching enhanced targeting solutions that would boost contextual ad relevance.

One new solution, Keyword Suggestions, uses machine learning (ML) to help advertisers expand their keyword lists, by recommending relevant keywords, and filter out unsuitable keywords. The suggestions are powered by pulling information from posts and conversations on the platform.

In another change, Reddit enhanced its interest-based targeting by more than doubling the number of interests available to advertisers for targeting.

“As we enter a new chapter in our industry and evolve beyond traditional signals, interest-based, contextually relevant targeting will be the most effective way to reach people where they’re most engaged,” Jim Squires, executive vice president of business marketing and growth, said in an Aug. 31 press release.

Reddit has also been laying the groundwork for a foray into social commerce. The platform has a user base of more than 500 million monthly active users and 100,000 active communities.