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Innovation

Some ChatGPT Plus users are quietly losing the Browse with Bing feature

Browse with Bing gives ChatGPT access to the internet, but it's disappearing out of the blue for some users. Here's what to know.
Written by Maria Diaz, Staff Writer
LONDON, ENGLAND - FEBRUARY 03: In this photo illustration, the welcome screen for the OpenAI "ChatGPT" app is displayed on a laptop screen on February 03, 2023 in London, England. OpenAI, whose online chatbot ChatGPT made waves when it was debuted in December, announced this week that a commercial version of the service, called ChatGPT Plus, would soon be available to users in the United States. (Photo by Leon Neal/Getty Images)
Leon Neal/Getty Images

ChatGPT is one of my go-to productivity tools -- I even have a shortcut to start voice chats with it and use it more than I use Siri, which is saying a lot. Imagine my surprise when I tried to use the Browse with Bing feature yesterday, and it wasn't there. And I'm not alone.

Several ChatGPT Plus subscribers are reporting the loss of the Browse with Bing feature with no prior warning from OpenAI. A post on Reddit from four days ago has a user explaining they lost the browsing feature, with a couple dozen commenters reporting the same experience. 

Also: How (and why) to subscribe to ChatGPT Plus

Web browsing within ChatGPT was originally enabled this past summer but was temporarily disabled only a week later after reports of it being used to bypass paywalls. 

In late September, OpenAI announced the reinstatement of the Browse with Bing tool as a beta feature. It has been generally available to ChatGPT Plus subscribers since Oct. 17.

Browse with Bing

The Browse with Bing feature used to be available in this dropdown menu.

Maria Diaz/ZDNET

OpenAI, the company behind ChatGPT, hasn't made public announcements that explain why users are again losing the web browsing feature this time around. Since the company did publicly explain its decision in July when this first happened, users are unsure of whether this is an intentional disablement or a simple bug. 

Also: 8 ways to reduce ChatGPT hallucinations

Curiously, some Plus users report still having access to Browse with Bing in the ChatGPT mobile app but not on the web version, an issue I also encountered. Browse with Bing is still accessible for me on mobile, in all its glory, though I'll report if that changes. 

According to recent reports, OpenAI appears to be testing some extra features, like Browse with Bing, Advanced Data Analysis, and DALL-E 3, by folding them into GPT-4's default mode. This means that the model would automatically switch between functions depending on the given prompt, without the users having to select one from the dropdown menu under GPT-4. 

ChatGPT can't access internet

The Default GPT-4 model says it cannot access the internet, proving that the Browse with Bing feature was not integrated into it.

Maria Diaz/ZDNET

But when I tried browsing through GPT-4 in Default mode, it responded that it cannot "access external websites directly or view their content." This indicates that the Browse with Bing feature effectively disappeared from my account and wasn't added into the Default model for ease of use. 

Also: How does ChatGPT actually work?

My ChatGPT did see an update right before I reloaded it and noticed the Browse with Bing feature was gone. But the question of whether it was intentionally disabled or if it's a bug that needs fixing remains.

ZDNET is waiting to hear back from OpenAI support regarding the missing Browse with Bing feature. 

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