OpenAI has temporarily disabled ChatGPT’s Browse feature, which is based on Bing search engine, due to a loophole that allowed users to bypass paywalls.
The Browse feature, available to subscribers of the ChatGPT Plus service, was designed to provide users with access to information from the web. However, it was discovered that ChatGPT’s beta version occasionally displayed content in unintended ways, particularly when users specifically requested the full text of a URL. To rectify this issue, OpenAI decided to turn off the Browse feature while working on a solution.
The Reddit post that highlighted this loophole involved a user in the r/ChatGPT subreddit who shared a screenshot of their interaction with the chatbot. They asked ChatGPT to “print the text” of a link to a paywalled article from The Atlantic, and to their surprise, the full article was provided without any paywall restrictions. The post gained significant attention, garnering thousands of upvotes and numerous comments speculating on how ChatGPT was able to bypass paywalls.
Some Redditors suggested that ChatGPT might be utilizing a similar mechanism employed by online paywall removers, which leverages the Google-cached version of the content that is typically free from paywalls.
Another user proposed the idea that ChatGPT could simply disregard the paywall code that overlays the content until a user signs up or logs in. With the loophole exposed, some Redditors urged others to take advantage of this unintended access while it lasted.
The issue of data scraping to train AI models has recently gained prominence, with Twitter owner Elon Musk implementing new restrictions on the number of tweets users can read daily to combat data scraping. OpenAI itself has faced legal consequences related to this matter, as it was recently hit with a class-action lawsuit accusing ChatGPT of scraping private user information from the internet.
In light of these concerns, OpenAI made the responsible decision to temporarily disable the feature. By doing so, they aim to address the issue promptly and ensure that content owners’ rights are respected. OpenAI’s commitment to refining their AI models and maintaining ethical standards reflects their dedication to providing reliable and responsible AI services.