Snapchat has launched its own AI feature and yet only five days ago, National World published an article advising users how to remove the feature… yep, that’s how much users have already complained about it.
I discovered the user disdain first through a hilarious TikTok my boss sent me. Posted by @acsthe the caption reads “manipulating Snapchat AI” and follows a series of screenshots where the user asks Snapchat AI who the monarch of the United Kingdom is. The AI first answers “Queen Elizabeth II” to which the user responds that Elizabeth died in September 2022. The AI responds with condolences for the user’s loss (lol) so the user asks again who the monarch of England is. Bizarrely the AI responds correctly answering “King Charles” but then states that Charles died on 11 April of this year. The conversation concludes with AI stating that since Charles is dead, Queen Camilla is the current monarch…
The TikTok makes sense seeing that the AI feature’s updates only go as far as 2021 hence why it thought Lizzie was still Queen of England.
This user is not alone in their humorous frustration. Since its launch many have flooded the Apple Store and Play Store with one star reviews of the app. Many have also voiced their frustrations with the way it has been implemented, as in its current form the My AI feature is automatically pinned to the top of your chat feed – ranking it above all of your actual real life friends and family.
Over the past week, Snapchat’s average U.S. App Store review was 1.67, with 75% of reviews being one-star, according to data from app intelligence firm Sensor Tower. For comparison, across Q1 2023, the Snapchat average U.S. App Store review was 3.05, with only 35% of reviews being one-star.
Another app data provider, Apptopia, reports a similar trend. Its analysis shows “AI” was the top keyword in Snapchat’s App Store reviews over the past seven days, where it was mentioned 2,973 times. The firm has given the term an “Impact Score” rating of -9.2. This Impact Score is a weighted index that measures the effect a term has on sentiment and ranges from -10 to +10.
Apptopia also said that Snapchat received around 3x more one-star ratings than usual on April 20, 2023. That’s the day after the My AI global release was announced.
For Snap, the addition of an AI chatbot to its social app would have been thought to be a smart move, as dozens of AI chatbot apps are filling the app stores, raking in millions of dollars — a signal that could easily be interpreted to indicate growing consumer demand for social AI chat experiences.
But many Snapchat users aren’t thrilled with My AI, which appeared inside their app without warning or their consent.
Many users also find the feature overly invasive and have been surprised to learn that Snapchat’s AI knows their location, for example, and can use that information in its responses, even if they’re not sharing their location on the Snap Map.
In a way, the AI bot is surfacing the level of personal data collection that social media companies do in the background, and putting it directly in front of the consumer. As it turns out, that’s not a great selling point when the users don’t feel they’ve specifically opted in to share that data with the AI.
In addition, Snapchat’s My AI had already been the subject of serious concerns before its public rollout.
While available as a subscriber-only feature, The Washington Post reported the bot was responding in an unsafe manner. After telling the bot the user was a 15-year-old, the AI made suggestions about how to mask the smell of alcohol and weed at a birthday party. It also wrote an essay for school for the teen. When the bot was told the user was 13, it responded to a question about how to set the mood when having sex for the first time, the paper reported.
Snap downplayed the claims at the time, saying some people had tried to “trick the chatbot into providing responses that do not conform to our guidelines.” However, it then rolled out new tools including age filters to keep the AI responses more age-appropriate, and promised parental controls were on the way.
Those parental controls were still not available at the time of My AI’s public launch and Snap gave no update as to when they could be expected.
So far, Snapchat has declined to comment on the situation but noted that Snapchat+ users sent nearly 2 million chats to the AI while in early testing.