Snapchat users were alarmed on Tuesday night when the platform’s artificial intelligence chatbot posted a live update to its profile and stopped responding to messages.
The Snapchat My AI feature — which is powered by the viral AI chatbot tool ChatGPT — typically offers recommendations, answers questions and converses with users. But posting a live Story (a short video of what appeared to be a wall) for all Snapchat users to see was a new one: It’s a capability typically reserved for only its human users.
The app’s fans were quick to share their concerns on social media. “Why does My AI have a video of the wall and ceiling in their house as their story?” wrote one user. “This is very weird and honestly unsettling.” Another user wrote after the tool ignored his messages: “Even a robot ain’t got time for me.”
Turns out, this wasn’t Snapchat working to make its My AI tool even more realistic. The company told CNN on Wednesday it was a glitch. “My AI experienced a temporary outage that’s now resolved,” a spokesperson said.
Still, the strong reaction highlighted the fears many people have about the potential risks of artificial intelligence.
Since launching in April, the tool has faced backlash not only from parents but from some Snapchat users with criticisms over privacy concerns, “creepy” exchanges and an inability to remove the feature from their chat feed unless they pay for a premium subscription.
Unlike some other AI tools, Snapchat’s version has some key differences: Users can customize the chatbot’s name, design a custom Bitmoji avatar for it and bring it into conversations with friends. The net effect is that conversing with Snapchat’s chatbot may feel less transactional than visiting ChatGPT’s website. It also may be less clear that you’re talking to a computer.
While some may find value in the tool, the mixed reaction hinted at the challenges companies face in rolling out new generative AI technology to their products, and particularly in products like Snapchat, whose users skew younger.
Snapchat was an early launch partner when OpenAI opened up access to ChatGPT to third-party businesses, with many more expected to follow.