AI chatbots like ChatGPT are all the rage, so it’s no surprise to learn that TikTok is now testing its AI chatbot as well. The bot, called “Taco,” is undergoing limited testing in select markets, where it will appear on the right side of the TikTok interface, above a user’s profile and other buttons for likes, comments and bookmarks. When tapped, users can ask Taco various questions about the video or discover new content by asking for suggestions.
For example, when viewing a video of the coronation of King Charles, Taco may suggest that the user ask “What is the significance of the coronation of King Charles III?”
Or, if users were looking for ideas for something to watch, they could ask Taco to suggest some videos on a particular topic — such as funny pet videos. The bot will respond with a list of results that will include the name, author and subject of the video, as well as links to suggested videos. From here, you can click on a video’s thumbnail to be directed to the content.
The bot was discovered while it was being publicly tested by app intelligence firm Watchful.ai, and TikTok confirmed that the tests are now live.
A spokesperson for TikTok told TechCrunch, “Staying at the forefront of innovation is critical to building the TikTok experience, and we are always searching for new technologies that add value to our community.” “In select markets, we are testing new ways to empower discovery and discovery on TikTok, and we look forward to learning from our community as we continue to create a safe space that entertains, fuels creativity inspires and drives culture.”
However, although Watchful.ai says it found the AI chatbot in tests on iOS devices in the US, TikTok says the current version of the bot is not currently public in the US, but is being tested in other global markets. , including an early version. Limited testing in the Philippines.
We also understand that the bot will not appear on accounts of minors.
Behind the scenes, TikTok is leveraging an undisclosed third-party AI provider that TikTok has customized for its needs. That amendment does not include the use of in-house AI technologies from TikTok or parent company ByteDance.
Upon first launch, TikTok advised users in a pop-up message that Taco is still considered “experimental” and that its responses “may not be correct or accurate” – a disclaimer that applies to all modern AI chatbots. Which includes OpenAI’s ChatGPT and Google’s AI. among others. TikTok also emphasizes that the chatbot should not be relied upon for medical, legal or financial advice. (We understand that the words in the image below may refer to an older version of the bot rather than current tests.)
The disclosure also notes that all Tako conversations will be reviewed for security purposes and vaguely to “enhance your experience.” This is one of the complications that unfortunately come with using modern AI chatbots. Because the technologies are so new, companies are opting to log customer interactions and review them to help improve their bots. But from a privacy perspective, this means AI conversations aren’t being deleted after the chat ends, which poses a potential risk.
Some companies have worked around this consumer privacy concern by allowing users to manually delete their chats, as Snap has done with its My AI chatbot companion in the Snapchat app. TikTok is taking a similar approach with Taco, as it also allows users to delete their chats.
It is unclear whether the AI chatbot is logging data linked to user names or other personal information. The chatbot’s long-term data retention policies or privacy aspects also could not be determined at this time.
The security risks of AI chatbots have prompted some companies, including Apple, to ban such bots at work that allow employees to access confidential data using tools such as OpenAI’s ChatGPT or Microsoft-owned GitHub’s Copilot. has been banned over concerns of leaking. Others that have recently imposed similar restrictions include banks such as Bank of America, Citi, Deutsche Bank, Goldman Sachs, Wells Fargo and JPMorgan, as well as Walmart, Samsung and telecom giant Verizon.
Why consumers would want an AI chatbot in TikTok is another matter.
While most companies are experimenting with AI in some way, shape, or form, TikTok believes that the chatbot can do more than just answer questions about videos – it can also integrate into the app for users. Beyond typing, there could also be a different way of showing content in the app. search box.
This could pose a threat to Google if TikTok’s tests are successful and the chatbot is rolled out publicly, given that Google has already noted how Gen Z is the first place to search for certain topics. As are turning to TikTok and Instagram. Soon, Google will start rolling out a conversational experience in search, but if TikTok had its own in-app AI chatbot, that could encourage younger users to bypass Google entirely.
Update, 5/25/23, 9 AM ET: At the time of publication, TikTok shared additional information about Taco on its Twitter account. Where relevant, we’ve updated with additional details.