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ChatGPT’s Bing browsing feature disabled over paywall access flaw

OpenAI has disabled ChatGPT’s Browse with Bing feature after some users discovered that it can be used to bypass paywalls, which are often used by news publications to encourage readers to sign up for a paid subscription.

Browse with Bing was available only to subscribers of ChatGPT Plus, the premium tier of OpenAI’s popular chatbot.

“We’ve learned that ChatGPT’s ‘Browse’ beta can occasionally display content in ways we don’t want, e.g. if a user specifically asks for a URL’s full text, it may inadvertently fulfill this request,” OpenAI said in a tweet on Tuesday. “We are disabling Browse while we fix this — want to do right by content owners.”

We've learned that ChatGPT's "Browse" beta can occasionally display content in ways we don't want, e.g. 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.

— OpenAI (@OpenAI) July 4, 2023

In a subsequent tweet, OpenAI said it was “very grateful to the ChatGPT Plus subscribers who have been helping us test the browsing feature,” adding: “This is why we started with a beta — have received extremely valuable feedback, learned a lot.”

The Microsoft-backed company said it will relaunch the feature “soon.”

In response to the issue, OpenAI has also altered its FAQ page to let Plus subscribers know what’s going on.

“As of July 3, 2023, we’ve disabled the Browse with Bing beta feature out of an abundance of caution while we fix this in order to do right by content owners,” the updated page says. “We are working to bring the beta back as quickly as possible, and appreciate your understanding!”

As its name suggests, Browse with Bing is an integration with Microsoft’s search engine and enables ChatGPT Plus users to pull up recent information instead of only older web-based data that the chatbot has been trained on, which goes back as far as September 2021.

When the feature returns, those using OpenAI’s ChatGPT app on iPhone can launch it by enabling Browsing in the “New Features” section of the app’s settings. Next, select GPT-4 in the model switcher and then choose “Browse with Bing” in the drop-down.

ChatGPT Plus costs $20 per month for benefits such as smooth access to ChatGPT during busy times, quicker response times, and priority access to new features and improvements.

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Trevor Mogg
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