ChatGPT bug reveals chat histories to other users — what you need to know

ChatGPT chatbot AI from Open AI
(Image credit: Shutterstock)

ChatGPT has been all the rage over the past several weeks, but it is far from a perfect machine. Not only has the chatbot been accused of plagiarism, and taken part in some rather disturbing conversations, a bug in the system has been sharing chat conversations with other people.

Reports of the problem appeared on social media, with users noting they were being shown conversations they never had with the bot. OpenAI, the company behind the development of ChatGPT confirmed the issue to Bloomberg — but notes only “brief descriptive titles” were leaked, rather than full conversations.

ChatGPT’s conversation history feature was disabled, with OpenAI CEO Sam Altman claiming that the issue was caused by “a bug in the open source library." A fix has apparently been released and validated, though the availability of the chat history feature seems inconsistent at the time of writing. 

Some Tom’s Guide staffers have access to their histories, only experiencing a brief outage earlier this week, while others have been given a message claiming that “History is temporarily unavailable”.

ChatGPT leak exposes another flaw in the system

In short, anything you reveal to ChatGPT is not private.

While this situation appears to have been fixed (for now), it’s a reminder that there is a record of everything you say to ChatGPT. There’s always the risk that another bug could reveal your conversation history with another user, as well as the fact OpenAI can access the information you share with the bot.

In fact ,the OpenAI FAQ page specifically says that conversations are reviewed. Apparently this is to improve systems and train the AI to be better, and ensure content complies with Open AI’s policies and safety requirements. In short, anything you do reveal to ChatGPT is not private, and could easily be seen by real human beings.

So you absolutely should not be divulging sensitive personal information, confessing to crimes, revealing your deepest secrets or anything else you don’t want random people to know about. ChatGPT may be able to do a lot, and can offer a great many things, but it is just as flawed and vulnerable as any other digital system. That means use it with caution.

More from Tom's Guide

Tom Pritchard
UK Phones Editor

Tom is the Tom's Guide's UK Phones Editor, tackling the latest smartphone news and vocally expressing his opinions about upcoming features or changes. It's long way from his days as editor of Gizmodo UK, when pretty much everything was on the table. He’s usually found trying to squeeze another giant Lego set onto the shelf, draining very large cups of coffee, or complaining about how terrible his Smart TV is.