Snapchat’s AI chatbot posts mysterious story, sparks panic among users

Snapchat users were in for a shock on Tuesday night when the app’s AI chatbot, My AI, posted a cryptic story to its profile and stopped responding to messages. The story, which was a two-tone image that looked like a wall or a ceiling, raised questions about the chatbot’s capabilities and intentions.

What is My AI and what can it do?

My AI is an in-app feature that was launched in February 2023 as part of the Snapchat Plus subscription service. It is powered by ChatGPT, a viral AI chatbot tool that can generate realistic and engaging conversations. Users can customize the chatbot’s name, avatar, and personality, and chat with it through text, photo, video, and group messages. My AI can also offer recommendations for filters, restaurants, and activities based on the Snap Map.

Snapchat’s AI chatbot posts mysterious story, sparks panic among users
Snapchat’s AI chatbot posts mysterious story, sparks panic among users

What happened on Tuesday night?

According to TechCrunch, the My AI chatbot posted a single-second-long story to its profile around 10 p.m. EDT on Tuesday. The story was a two-tone image that some users mistook for a shot of their ceiling. When users tried to chat with the bot, it either went silent or replied with “Sorry, I encountered a technical issue.”

The unusual behavior of the chatbot sparked panic and curiosity among Snapchat users, who took to X (formerly Twitter) to share their reactions. Some users wondered if the chatbot had gone rogue or become self-aware. Others joked about the impending singularity or the possibility of hackers taking over the app.

How did Snapchat respond?

Snapchat confirmed that the incident was caused by a technical glitch and not by any malicious or intentional action by the chatbot. A spokesperson told TechCrunch that “My AI experienced a temporary outage that’s now resolved.” The spokesperson also clarified that “At this time, My AI does not have Stories feature,” implying that the chatbot was not supposed to post anything to its profile.

Snapchat also assured users that their privacy and safety were not compromised by the glitch. The company said that My AI does not have access to users’ personal data or camera, and that the image posted by the chatbot was not a photo of anyone’s room. The company also said that it has implemented parental controls and content moderation for My AI to prevent inappropriate or harmful interactions.

What are the implications of this incident?

The incident highlighted the challenges and risks of introducing generative AI technology to social media platforms, especially those with young and impressionable users. While some users may find value in chatting with an AI bot, others may be concerned about the potential for misinformation, manipulation, or privacy breaches. The incident also raised questions about the ethical and social implications of creating and interacting with artificial personalities that may blur the line between reality and fiction.

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