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“Bug” Forces OpenAI to Shut Down ChatGPT Temporarily

Dado Ruvic / REUTERS

Written by: Martin Dale D. Bolima, Technology Journalist, AOPG


Now it can be told: ChatGPT did go down a couple of days ago.

And it appears it was not because of a glitch. Neither was it a case of too many people using ChatGPT.

Instead, OpenAI—the company that created ChatGPT—deliberately shut it down for a few hours to fix a “bug.” According to reports, OpenAI found that some users were able to see the titles of other users’ conversation history. The viral Artificial Intelligence (AI)-powered chatbot saves every conversation automatically. ChatGPT then labels each tab based on the subject of the first query.

An OpenAI spokesperson admitted the bug to Bloomberg News, and explained how the titles were visible in the user-history sidebar. Said sidebar is found on the left side of the ChatGPT webpage and contains previous chats and queries. The spokesperson clarified, though, that “the substance of other users’ conversations was not visible.”

Regardless, the company deemed the bug a “significant issue” and responded accordingly.

No less than OpenAI CEO Sam Altman admitted in a Twitter thread the unfortunate development, for which he profusely apologized. The resulting shutdown also meant ChatGPT users could not access their chat history on March 20.

“We had a significant issue in ChatGPT due to a bug in an open-source library,” Altman wrote. “We feel awful about this.”

Altman ended his thread with a promise that OpenAI “will follow up with a technical postmortem.”

Since its launch on November 2022, ChatGPT has gone viral, with millions worldwide using it for a variety of purposes. But it has also opened up conversations and even heated discussions on, among other things, responsible use and AI ethics. Expect more impassioned discussions moving forward, including talks about possible privacy violations and questions about the aforesaid open-source library.

But whether it will make a dent in the popularity of ChatGPT remains to be seen.