If last year was all about NFTs, this is definitely the year of AI. From terrifyingly impressive text-to-image generators to ChatGPT, AI is everywhere right now – including, as of this week, right at the top of your Snapchat app.
Yep, users are discovered that the app's new 'My AI' feature is being displayed rather prominently in the UI. The tool, which essentially acts like a ChatGPT bot, sits right at the top of the app, and it's fair to say not everyone is loving it. (Still, at least it isn't quite as horrifying as that AI-generated video of Will Smith eating spaghetti.)
Say hi to My AI, our new chatbot located at the top of your chat. Write a song for your bestie who loves cheese, find the best IYKYK restaurant, or Snap it a photo of your garden to find the perfect recipe. Now free for all Snapchatters. #SnapPartnerSummit pic.twitter.com/U2KdozuWQzApril 19, 2023
My AI first launched to Snapchat Plus subscribers earlier this year, but it's now been rolled out to general users. And like when Instagram temporarily foisted full-screen videos on users, there seems to be a general sense of "We didn't ask for this" online.
"I don’t want to. I want it gone. Remove it," one user comments on Snapchat's tweet announcing the feature, while another adds, "Can we have the option to delete it? Asking for the majority of us who didn’t request this feature." Another says, "Snapchat needs to make the AI feature optional and require an Opt-In. When I made my account, I didn't agree to AI technology being forced upon me. People have a right to make choices about their account security. Every other feature is an opt-in." The unwelcome addition has even led to Snapchat getting review-bombed, with users flooding the Apple App Store and Google Play store with 1-star reviews.
One of the creepiest and most controversial aspects of My AI is that it appears to know the users' location – despite its protestations to the contrary. Apps using location data isn't anything particularly, but what's weird is that the chat bot seems keen to insist that it doesn't. Indeed, Twitter is filled with examples of My AI offering location-based recommendations while claiming not to know where the user is based, when the user has location-based services disabled:
the snapchat AI bot very quickly walking back that it pretty obviously has and uses my location data pic.twitter.com/bqVkILQiRbApril 19, 2023
Snapchat AI is creepy 🤔 It told me my location and when I went to go enable “ghost mode”, I already had that on. Thoughts? pic.twitter.com/5V7CPVSNjoApril 22, 2023
As if the location issue wasn't enough, Snapchat's decision to place the feature front-and-centre in the UI seems to be particularly rankling users. And just like that, we have yet another AI-based controversy to contend with, joining the likes of this AI pizza ad and that terrifying South Park deepfake.