Reddit's $60 Million Deal With Google Will Feed Generative AI

Social media and news-sharing platform Reddit has made a $60 million deal with Google to use its user-generated content to help train the search giant’s generative AI models, according to a report from Reuters on Wednesday.

This news comes as Reddit, the 17th most visited website in the world, filed to go public earlier Thursday. Selling user-generated data to train AI could be another lucrative revenue stream for the platform, which largely relies on ad sales.

The deal will also allow Google to filter in more Reddit results in Search.

“Over the years, we’ve seen that people increasingly use Google to search for helpful content on Reddit to find product recommendations, travel advice and much more,” Rajan Patel, Google’s vice president of Search Experience, said in a blog post. Patel said the partnership will allow “more content-forward displays of Reddit information.” Reddit echoed similar sentiments in its own blog post.

Both Reddit and Google declined to comment, referring to their blog posts.

Google’s deal with Reddit highlights the value of user-generated content for generative AI platforms. AI engines like ChatGPT and Google’s Gemini are trained on mountains of text data from across the internet. The AI models take in this information and run it through to trillions of parameters to generate novel sentences. It’s been described as autocomplete on steroids.

Generally, more data, especially data from actual humans, means that the models can sound more human-like. How Reddit’s training data might affect future Google AI products remains to be seen. Considering that Reddit hosts voices both incisive and obnoxiously controversial, Google’s AI products might take in both the good and the bad, unless the company can effectively filter out the toxic elements. Trying to correct for human bias can sometimes lead to other errors. Recently, Google had to pause image generation on Gemini as it was generating images of white historical figures as people of color, instead.

Reactions on Reddit toward the news have largely been sardonic.

Reddit has also become an important part of Google Search results over the last few years. Given the influx of search engine optimized content flooding Google Search, it’s made it harder for people to find useful information. It doesn’t help that bland AI-generated content is already filling up the internet. One tactic some internet users employ is to enter a search query along with the word “Reddit.” This filters in Reddit results, which tend to show actual discussions between users.

When protests broke out on Reddit last year that saw many subreddits go private over the site’s decision to effectively kill off third-party Reddit apps, it affected Google’s search results. It shows how much Google is reliant on quality information to fill its results page to sell online ads against. Given Reddit’s reliance on its users, executives may have incentive to keep those users happy. Reddit may even sell stock to some of its most loyal users, according to a report from The Wall Street Journal. The unusual offering could be a way to appease fervent Reddit users, especially those that are willing to protest against or boycott the platform. Reddit was valued at $10 billion in 2021.