After receiving a number of 1-star reviews over its My AI chatbot feature, Snapchat today published a blog post to explain in more detail how location sharing impacts its in-app AI experience. The company additionally noted that the My AI chatbot might take “a little time” to notice that you’ve stopped providing your location information to the app. That could mean the bot retains your location details for a while, giving it the appearance of having access to knowledge you had restricted.
After Snapchat rolled out its AI-powered chatbot My AI to all global users last week, there were numerous complaints about the feature related both to where it’s placed in the app and what it knows — including a user’s location.
The company said that My AI will have access to some information that you share with Snapchat, like your location. It also has knowledge of the user’s age, as previously announced, due to the increased protections it implemented for younger users. In addition, the company earlier this month shared that messages with My AI are retained in the app, unless the user deletes them.
When launching My AI, a notice at the start of the chat informs the user the app will share some information with the chatbot for customized suggestions.
“It’s important to know that My AI does not collect any new location information from Snapchatters,” Snap said in a blog post.. “As detailed in our support page, the chatbot only has access to a Snapchatter’s location if they’ve already granted permissions to Snapchat (which also makes it possible to share their location on Snap Map).”
Snap explained the bot uses the location data to give you personalized recommendations about various things — like restaurants around you. And it specified on the My AI support page that the app only shares “city-level location and very generalized distances between you and places” for suggestions.
By default, Snapchat doesn’t enable location sharing. But that permission is enabled if you use Snap Map — as 300 million Snapchatters now do.
If you later change your mind and no longer want to give Snapchat your location, you can turn off that permission from Settings on iOS and Android devices. Snap says that turning off location data means that the AI chatbot won’t be able to provide recommendations that are personalized based on your location.
However, it noted in the blog post that “if Snapchatters stop sharing their location with Snapchat, it may take a little time for this to take effect in My AI.”
This could potentially confuse some users as it would seem as if the AI had knowledge of your location, even when the permission had been turned off.
Still, this wasn’t the only complaint users had about the My AI feature, leading to its 1-star reviews. Many people were also upset that the AI was pinned to the top of the Chats tab and could not be blocked or removed. Only Snapchat+ subscribers have that ability, making people feel as if they were being forced to pay to remove a feature they didn’t want.
4/26/23, 5 PM ET: updated with additional reporting by Sarah Perez
Snap says its bot won’t notice instantly that you stopped sharing your location by Ivan Mehta originally published on TechCrunch