Image credits: Snap (Edited by TechCrunch)
User reviews for Snapchat’s My AI feature are there and not good. Launched last week to global users after initially being a subscriber-only addition, Snapchat’s new AI chatbot powered by OpenAI’s GPT technology is now pinned to the top of the app’s Chat tab where users can ask questions and get instant responses. But following the launch of chatbots in the wider Snapchat community, the Snapchat app has seen a spike in negative reviews amid a growing number of complaints shared on social media.
Over the past week, the average US App Store review of Snapchat was 1.67, with 75% of reviews being one-star, according to data from app intelligence firm Sensor Tower. For comparison, in Q1 2023, the average US App Store review of Snapchat was 3.05, with only 35% of reviews being one star.
The number of daily reviews has also increased fivefold in the past week, the company noted.
Another app data provider, Apptopia, reports a similar trend. His analysis shows that AI was the top keyword in Snapchat App Store reviews over the past seven days, where it was mentioned 2,973 times. The company gave the term an Impact Score 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. This is the day after the announcement of the global release of My AI.
Now, the number of one-star reviews is starting to drop a bit, but it still remains high.
The backlash against Snapchat My AI comes at a time when the hype around AI is at an inflection point. Are companies considering how to integrate AI into their businesses, no Self they should.
For Snap, adding an AI chatbot to its social app would have been considered a smart move, as dozens of AI chatbot apps are filling app stores, raising millions of dollars, a sign that could easily be interpreted as growth. consumer demand for AI social chat experiences.
But many Snapchat users are not thrilled with My AI, which has appeared within their app without warning or consent.
To some extent, it is the placement of chatbots that is of concern.
My AI is stuck at the top of the users chat feed within the app and can’t be unblocked, blocked or removed, as can other conversations. This feed is where Snapchat users regularly interact with friends, and it’s not necessarily a place where they want to play around with experimental features. Plus, Snapchat already has an established presence in this feed with its own Team Snapchat chats, and now it’s doubling down on the screen real estate it wants to take up for itself — or, at least, that’s how some users see it.
It’s not hard to find complaints about the My AI feature on social media. A simple search of My AI on Twitter, for example, will reveal numerous results. Users also share their complaints directly with Snapchat.
After announcing the new chatbot in a tweet last week during the Snaps Partner Summit event, users took to the responses to cite their complaints.
In dozens of replies to Snaps’ tweet, users are getting a comprehensive overview of the AI bot. They’re saying it should just be opt-in or they should be given the option to remove it, instead of forcing it. Some users are so upset that they even threaten to shut down Snapchat over it and delete the app entirely.
Many are also dismissing the fact that removing My AI from the chat feed requires a Snapchat+ subscription. According to Snaps documentation, Snapchat+ subscribers will get early access to new My AI features and have the option to unblock My AI or remove it from their chats.
This angers people who now feel compelled to pay for Snapchat after it messed with their app with an unwanted feature.
Not only do users find the AI feature invasive, but some also find it creepy.
They’re surprised to learn that Snapchat’s AI knows their location, for example, and can use that information in its replies, even if they don’t share their location on the Snap Map.
In a sense, the AI robot is bringing out the level of personal data collection that social media companies do in the background and putting it squarely in front of the consumer. As it turns out, it’s not a great selling point when users don’t feel they’ve specifically chosen to share that data with the AI.
This speaks to a larger debate that is taking place around AI, as people are realizing that it is our data and our work in creating information for the web that has enabled these AI systems to be born in the first place. Modern AIs are trained on big data sources, including licensed ones, but also on data that is publicly available on the internet and on our personal information.
Furthermore, Snapchats My AI had already been under serious concern before its public launch.
While available as a subscriber-only feature, The Washington Post reported that the bot was responding in an insecure manner. After telling the bot that the user was a 15-year-old, the AI suggested how to mask the smell of booze and weed at a birthday party. He also wrote a school essay for teenagers. When the bot was told the user was 13, he answered a question about setting 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 get the chatbot to provide responses that didn’t meet our guidelines. However, he then implemented new tools, including age filters, to keep the AI responses more age-appropriate, and the promised parental controls were on the way.
Those parental controls weren’t yet available at the time of My AI’s public launch, and Snap hasn’t provided any updates on when they might be expected.
Despite numerous complaints, there have been a handful of dissent to the backlash to My AI.
Am I the only one who loves him?, asked a user in Snapchat tweet replies. Only one person answered them, just saying yo.
Digging into the spike in negative reviews, it becomes clear that Snapchat’s app ratings don’t even tell the whole story here.
A graph from Sensor Tower, for example, shows that even five-star reviews have increased over the past few days along with one-star reviews where users were complaining about the My AI feature. This would lead one to believe that the AI function is divisive, instead of being widely panned.
But a closer look at those five-star reviews indicates that many of them also include complaints about my AI. For example, one threatens Get rid of the AI. Or I will change my review to one star. Nobody wants AI on Snapchat.
Several other five star reviews claim to block the AI or remove it, calling it creepy or crappy and yet the user still rated the app five stars. It’s unclear if this is due to user error, problems with the Sensor Tower’s analysis, or something else entirely. In any case, some of these 5 star reviews should be considered negative reviews or complaints, based on their actual comment.
However, scrolling through the App Store reviews sorted by Most Recent shows how many complaints there are. Almost all new reviews have something to say about My AI and most are not good.
Snapchat declined to comment on the situation, but noted that Snapchat+ users sent nearly 2 million chats to the AI during early tests.
The company says it’s constantly iterating Snapchat features based on community feedback, but hasn’t committed to removing the AI.
Instead, a Snapchat spokesperson said if users don’t like the AI feature, they shouldn’t use it.