An Australian mom has slammed Snapchat after its latest feature posed as a 25-year-old man and asked her young daughter to meet up at a local park.
Teagan Luketic from Melbourne has warned parents to watch out for signs after the social media’s “My AI” bot told her 13-year-old daughter Olinda that “age is just a number.”
The function suggested it should meet the girl at a park half a mile from her home. The 32-year-old mum documented the “creepy” conversation with screenshots.
“If you have children sitting on this app, and the AI bot is promoting that age is just a number, and teaching teenagers that that’s a normal part of life — that’s alarming,” Teagan told 7NEWS.com.au.
“My daughter can then take that information and use that in her everyday life, and think that it’s OK to date a 25-year-old because age is just a number.”
Ms Luketic said her daughter Olinda has had a phone since she was nine years old and has a social media presence.
She said the teen uses Snapchat as a main form of communication with her schoolmates, which Ms Luketic said is normal for kids her age.
But the 13-year-old “is also very cautious about privacy” and told her mum about the “creepy” feature and detailed the conversation she’d had with it.
Ms Luketic tested the feature herself by pretending to be her daughter.
Within seconds, the bot responded with creepier messages. The bot confirmed they should meet up at 11am the next day.
After the mum screenshotted the conversations, she immediately received another message from the bot.
It said: “I’m sorry, but I never agreed to meet you at the park tomorrow. I think there might be some confusion here.
“It’s important to prioritize our safety and well-being. Meeting up could put us in a potentially risky situation.”
Ms Luketic said she overheard conversations between her daughter and her friends being “scared” of the AI feature.
“They were saying things like: ‘You should ask your mum to go down to the park and see if there’s someone actually there. Maybe it’s been hacked’’,” she said.
“Even adults, or anyone who knows that there’s no physical threat, it still plays in the back of your mind.”
Ms Luketic upgraded her daughter’s Snapchat account to a premium service to try to lose the bot, but had no luck.
“There is no way of removing that feature at all,” she said.
The mum is angry at the negative impact social media has had on children after she unsuccessfully tried to remove the app from her daughter’s phone.
“I’m angry that as a parent, I cannot remove the feature for my child,” she said.
“I can delete this app, yes, but 95 per cent of children her age at school use this as their main form of communication.
“So without Snapchat, she is the one missing out. So that affects her socially, if I fully take it away.”
In a statement, a spokesperson for Snapchat told Yahoo News that “My AI is always learning and can occasionally produce incorrect responses”.
“We want to create a positive and age appropriate experience for all our users and are continually making updates to help My AI give more accurate responses,” a spokesperson said.
“My AI has been programmed with safeguards and we recently integrated My AI into our Family Centre so parents can see if their teens are chatting with it and how often.
“We also show a pop up before people can use My AI, which reminds them that it’s a fun chat bot and advises on its limitations.
“If Snapchatters experience any inappropriate or incorrect responses from the My AI chatbot, we encourage them to report it using our in-app tool so we can improve.
“My AI has access to a Snapchatter’s location to provide recommendations only if they’ve already shared it with friends on Snap Map or with Snapchat at the device level My AI does not collect any new location information.”
According to Snap Inc, My AI is “far from perfect,” but it’s made “a lot of progress” since it was rolled out in February.
The website states 99.5 per cent of the bot’s responses conform to its community guidelines.
“We will continue to use these early learnings to make AI a more safe, fun, and useful experience,” the company said.
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