TikTok Tests Tako, an AI-Powered Chatbot

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TikTok is experimenting with a new feature in its mobile app, a chatbot named Tako, that is capable of answering user questions and holding conversations. A company representative said that the venture is an effort to explore “new ways to enhance TikTok” in select markets.

TikTok, owned by Chinese tech giant ByteDance, is taking this step towards integrating AI at a contentious time. The popular social media platform is facing scrutiny in the US and Europe, with politicians striving to curtail or limit the app’s operations due to concerns over data being potentially utilized by the Chinese government. This month, Montana became the first U.S. state to approve a TikTok ban, which was swiftly followed by the short-video service filing a lawsuit against the state government’s decision.

As of now, Tako is represented by a small ghost-shaped icon in the top-right corner of the app interface. Upon clicking this icon, users are directed to a messenger interface where they can pose questions. The chatbot can also make content recommendations based on user interests and preferences.

Despite TikTok having its own AI team, any information input into Tako is collected and relayed to unnamed “third-party service providers” to “provide you with answers to your questions,” according to the privacy terms. As a result, Tako is currently available only to TikTok users who are 18 years of age or older, the company noted.

Users have the option to delete their data, but they are cautioned against sharing any personal information with the chatbot. Users are also advised not to rely solely on the bot for medical, legal, or financial advice, as “feedback from Tako is generated by artificial intelligence and may be false or inaccurate.”

TikTok’s move to integrate AI into its platform underscores the increasing relevance of AI technology in social media, despite the potential privacy concerns and regulatory challenges. As the Tako chatbot remains in its testing phase, it will be insightful to observe how its performance and user reception will influence the future direction of AI integration in TikTok’s offerings.

Author Profile

Martin Harris
I'm Martin Harris, a tech writer with extensive experience, contributing to global publications. Trained in Computer Science, I merged my technical know-how with writing, becoming a technology journalist. I've covered diverse topics like AI and consumer electronics, contributing to top tech platforms. I participate in tech events for knowledge updating. Besides writing, I enjoy reading, photography, and aim to clarify technology's complexities to readers.

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