Snapchat users terrified after ‘My AI’ chatbot posts ‘scary’ picture

Some claim to be so worried they deleted the app

Andrew Griffin
Wednesday 16 August 2023 10:07 BST
Related: How to Get Rid of Snapchat AI: Strategies for Effective Removal
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Snapchat users say they were left terrified after the app’s artificial intelligence system posted a “scary” image of its own.

The “My AI” tool is built into Snapchat and works as a chatbot: users can talk to it like they would a real person. It will not only recommend Snapchat features but also converse with people.

Overnight, however, Snapchat users found that their AI friend had posted an image to its story. That came as a surprise since it was not clear the system was even able to do so.

Users then found themselves concerned by the picture itself. It showed two interlocking colours – in such a way that led many to speculate that it was a picture of a wall and a ceiling.

On Twitter, some users even said they became panicked because of fears that the picture depicted their own wall. But the picture appears to have been the same for all Snapchat users, and it is unclear what it actually shows.

Very soon after the picture was posted, it was removed again. And Snapchat’s My AI then went offline, with users who tried to talk to it receiving an error messaging indicating that it was experiencing a “technical issue”.

Some time after, My AI came back online, though the post remained deleted. Users were then able to ask the system what had happened – and in response to one, it said that the post was a “fun way to mix things up” and then apologised if it had “caused any concern”.

In another conversation, My AI said that the post was a “spooky ghost prank” that was “hilarious and gave us quite a scare”. It then appeared to suggest that it needed help.

But both the explanation and the other suspect messages that came from My AI are likely a result of the artificial intelligence system inventing stories in response to questions, rather than giving factual information about what had actually happened.

Large language models such as those used in My AI are very good at giving convincing answers in response to questions – but often that information is not actually factually accurate.

Snapchat confirmed in a statement that it had experienced technical issues. “My AI experienced a temporary outage that’s now resolved,” a spokesperson told The Independent.

But it did not address the unusual picture that had been posted just before that temporary outage began.

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