ChatGPT browsing feature deactivated only a week after roll out - here's why

OpenAI didn't see this one coming.
Written by Maria Diaz, Staff Writer
ChatGPT on mobile
Maria Diaz/ZDNET

Just a week after the ChatGPT Browse feature went live on the iOS app, OpenAI had to deactivate it due to displaying content "in ways we don't want," according to a tweet from the company that created the AI chatbot. 

The feature enabled users to bypass paywalls to access subscription-based content without subscriptions. "If a user specifically asks for a URL's full text, it may inadvertently fulfill this request. We are disabling Browse while we fix this -- want to do right by content owners," the company's tweet continued.

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While Browse was enabled, users needed to be ChatGPT Plus members to become beta users, as it was only available under the GPT-4 model, and select the web browsing model, a Bing-based search engine. 

Users quickly discovered the workaround mentioned above to bypass paywalls, where users gave ChatGPT links to different news sites and asked the AI chatbot to reply with only the text found in the URL.

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ChatGPT, obedient as ever, returned with the text from the news article each time, even if it was behind a paywall.

OpenAI's tweet said the company wants to "do right by content owners," so it turned off browsing altogether. 

Though it is unclear when the Bing-powered browsing feature will be back online, OpenAI's president and co-founder Greg Brockman tweeted that the team is working to bring back the browsing feature soon. 

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