Read ChatGPT’s Fine Print

Be honest – how often do you read the Terms & Conditions for the online services you use? If you’re like most people, the answer is “almost never.” That’s fine for some things, but today, I want you to read Section 3, Paragraph (c) of OpenAI’s Terms of Use. It is the most important thing you are going to read this morning:

(c) Use of Content to Improve Services. We do not use Content that you provide to or receive from our API (“API Content”) to develop or improve our Services. We may use Content from Services other than our API (“Non-API Content”) to help develop and improve our Services. You can read more here about how Non-API Content may be used to improve model performance. If you do not want your Non-API Content used to improve Services, you can opt out by filling out this form. Please note that in some cases this may limit the ability of our Services to better address your specific use case.

I call your attention to the sentence bolded above: “We may use Content from Services other than our API (“Non-API Content”) to help develop and improve our Services.” This means that anything you cut and paste or type into ChatGPT (which is specifically what they mean by “Non-API Content”) may be seen by someone who works for OpenAI.

The (obvious) policy for your organization should be: “Do not prompt ChatGPT with any proprietary or non-public data.” Importantly, this warning does not apply to the API. When you build an application that uses one of OpenAI’s APIs, the commercial license ensures that your data is secure and private. This is not the case even with the paid version of ChatGPT.

I have absolutely no evidence or indication that anyone has had any issues with ChatGPT and private data. The app is amazing and OpenAI has (so far) proven to be amazing.

All GPT models (including ChatGPT) do not learn from your data in the way that some other AI models do; they are “pretrained,” hence the name “Generative Pretrained Transformer.” However, OpenAI’s terms clearly state that they can use the inputs and outputs you create to improve their products. This means that human beings can look at the data – your data.

The bottom line is simple: opt out of data sharing by using the form OpenAI provides, or just use ChatGPT for things you might post publicly. That said, the best way to use conversational AI to improve corporate productivity is to build your own chatbot using OpenAI’s API.

If you want to learn more about the ins and outs of Generative AI, we offer Generative AI for Executives, a free online course. Feel free to reach out if you have questions or want to learn more about how we can help your team safely increase productivity using these extraordinary new tools.

Author’s note: This is not a sponsored post. I am the author of this article and it expresses my own opinions. I am not, nor is my company, receiving compensation for it.

About Shelly Palmer

Shelly Palmer is the Professor of Advanced Media in Residence at Syracuse University’s S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications and CEO of The Palmer Group, a consulting practice that helps Fortune 500 companies with technology, media and marketing. Named LinkedIn’s “Top Voice in Technology,” he covers tech and business for Good Day New York, is a regular commentator on CNN and writes a popular daily business blog. He's a bestselling author, and the creator of the popular, free online course, Generative AI for Execs. Follow @shellypalmer or visit



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