Redditors will now be forced to see personalized ads

Reddit announced it's removing the ability for users to opt out of activity-based ads, except in some countries.


Reddit has announced a slew of changes to its user preference settings, the most notable being that users will no longer have a say in whether they see personalized ads based on their site activity. Reddit’s Head of Privacy, Jutta Williams, shared a breakdown of the impending updates in a post to r/reddit on Wednesday night, writing that only users “in select [unspecified] countries” will be exempt from the new ad policy. For the rest, advertisers will be able to target users based on “what communities you join, leave, upvotes, downvotes, and other signals.”

Users were also sent a private message notifying them of the update, which is expected to take effect over the next few days. While users are losing control over activity-based ad personalization more broadly, they will be able to limit certain types of ads from appearing. Reddit is adding opt-out buttons for “sensitive advertising categories” including Alcohol, Dating, Gambling, Pregnancy & Parenting, and Weight Loss. Jutta notes that these will be identified both by manual tagging and machine learning, so it may take a while for the filters to work effectively.

In an attempt to get ahead of users’ concerns about their data, the post insists that “the vast majority of redditors will see no change to their ads,” further stating that “[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.” Responding in a later comment, Jutta wrote that “this update does not change the way we collect or share data.”

“This data informs how we target ads on our platform,” Jutta continued. “We do not share your information or activity with third parties for advertising outside Reddit.” Unsurprisingly, a lot of users are neither pleased nor convinced. Though Reddit hasn’t named the exact countries that will continue to have opt-out abilities, the exemption is likely intended to keep the platform in compliance with the GDPR, the EU's data protection law that came into effect in 2018.

In addition to changing the ad preferences, Reddit has also reorganized its location customization settings and made some tweaks to its privacy settings’ descriptions for clarity. Users should see the changes in their settings over the coming weeks.