Reddit’s upcoming changes attempt to safeguard the platform against AI crawlers

To protect its content from being exploited by artificial intelligence (AI) models, Reddit is implementing significant updates to its Robots Exclusion Protocol, commonly known as the robots.txt file. This file is crucial in directing automated web bots on whether they have permission to crawl and access a site’s content.

While traditionally used to facilitate search engine indexing, the rise of AI has introduced new challenges, with web scraping increasingly being used to train AI models without proper acknowledgment of the original content sources.

Reddit’s announcement on Tuesday highlights its commitment to updating the robots.txt file to combat these issues. Historically, this file allowed search engines to index a site’s content, making it easily accessible to users. However, AI companies have been exploiting this mechanism to scrape vast amounts of data for training their models, often without respecting the content’s origin.

To address this, Reddit is not only updating the robots.txt file but also continuing to implement rate-limiting and blocking measures against unknown bots and crawlers. According to the company, any bot or crawler that does not comply with Reddit’s Public Content Policy or lacks an agreement with the platform will face restrictions.

This approach aims to ensure that the majority of users and legitimate entities, such as researchers and the Internet Archive, remain unaffected while deterring AI companies from using Reddit’s content without permission.

The move follows a recent Wired investigation that revealed the AI-powered search startup Perplexity had been scraping content despite requests to stop. This incident underscored the need for stronger measures, as Perplexity’s CEO argued that the robots.txt file is not legally binding.

Reddit’s new policy explicitly targets companies that do not have existing agreements with the platform. For example, Reddit has a substantial $60 million deal with Google, allowing the tech giant to use Reddit’s data for AI training. By implementing these changes, Reddit is sending a clear message to other companies: access to its data for AI purposes will come at a cost and must comply with its policies.

In a recent blog post, Reddit emphasized its selective approach to granting large-scale access to its content, ensuring that those who use Reddit data adhere to the platform’s policies designed to protect its users. This update aligns with Reddit’s ongoing efforts to control how its data is accessed and utilized by commercial entities and partners, reinforcing its stance on safeguarding user content against unauthorized AI exploitation.


Reddit’s upcoming changes attempt to safeguard the platform against AI crawlers
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