OpenAI fixes ChatGPT bug after it leaked people's private conversations

The company had previously warned against sharing sensitive information with its AI chatbot.
Ameya Paleja
Sam Altman, CEO of ChatGPT's parent company OpenAI
Sam Altman, CEO of ChatGPT's parent company OpenAI

ChatGPT-owner OpenAI has confirmed that it has fixed a major bug that allowed a small set of users to see brief descriptions of other users' conversations with the chatbot in their windows. A full technical postmortem is expected later.

The conversational chatbot, ChatGPT has attracted millions of users over the last few months and is now being offered as a paid service. In addition to individual users who want to experiment with the chatbot's capabilities, businesses also want to deploy the service to automate their tasks. While the popularity of the chatbot and the artificial intelligence (AI) behind it, GPT, is on the rise, the news of a major bug exposing conversations with other users is a significant setback.

ChatGPT's chat history bug

Earlier this week, some ChatGPT users took to social media to share how they could see conversations they never had with the chatbot in their chat history.

While some thought this was a result of a hack, it soon became clear that the issue emanated from OpenAI itself. The company then removed access to the chat history sidebar for users, including the paying ones, while it worked on fixing the bug.

As some users pointed out and the company confirmed later, the bug only shared brief chat descriptions with other users, not the entire content. Nevertheless, the incident has brought forward discussions about how much information should be shared with chatbots.

OpenAI has said in its website's FAQ section that users must not share sensitive information in their conversations since they become part of the training data it might use. However, with businesses looking to leapfrog the competition with technology, confidential information will likely be fed to the chatbot daily.

The bug highlights privacy and security risks with the upcoming chatbots and how even the best companies cannot predict how things will turn out. According to CEO Sam Altman, the issue was caused due to a bug in the open-source library, which has now been fixed and validated.

As a result of the fix, users will also lose access to their chat history between 1 am and 10 am PDT on Monday, March 20. However, he hasn't given a timeline for when users can expect their chat histories to be available again on the chatbot.

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