OpenAI Temporarily Suspends ChatGPT’s Bing Feature After Users Encounter Paywalls

OpenAI has put a temporary halt to the Browse feature of ChatGPT, its Bing-based search engine, due to a loophole that allowed users to bypass paywalls. The decision was announced in a tweet on July 4, with OpenAI expressing its intention to address the issue and “do right by content owners.”

The Browse feature is currently in beta and is available to subscribers of the ChatGPT Plus service. While the testing phase helps iron out initial issues, it seems that OpenAI’s response to the problem may have been prompted by a Reddit post.

In late June, a user on the r/ChatGPT subreddit shared a screenshot of a Browse session where they asked the chatbot to “print the text” of a link to a paywalled article from The Atlantic. To the surprise of the user, ChatGPT provided the full article without the paywall.

The Reddit post gained significant attention, accumulating 6,200 upvotes and 284 comments. Some users speculated that ChatGPT might be utilizing a mechanism similar to online paywall removers, which rely on reading the Google-cached version of an article that lacks a paywall for search engine optimization purposes.

Another Reddit user suggested that ChatGPT might be capable of disregarding paywall codes that typically overlay content until a user signs up or logs in.

One astute Redditor aptly advised others to “enjoy it while it lasts.”

The scraping of data to train AI models has become a prominent issue in recent months, with Twitter owner Elon Musk even citing data scraping as the reason for new limits on the number of tweets users can read per day on the platform.

OpenAI has faced legal action in the past over similar concerns surrounding data scraping.

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