Snap-Spionage: With the rise of Snap AI, are we witnessing open surveillance through our devices?

Using Snapchat's latest feature with caution...

Mia Dale
4th June 2023
Image credit: Unsplash
Snapchat has just released its newest AI feature, powered by ChatGPT, to millions of its users; a tool designed to help answer questions and engage in conversation. Many people are now concerned about the safety of their data and personal information, whilst others are enjoying the rapid responses from their new AI ally.  Could this be a step closer to open surveillance? 

Many concerns have been raised about privacy and surveillance following Snapchat’s newest advancements, worrying that personal information can be collected through our devices. The MIT Technology Review has defined open surveillance as “any surveillance process that collects or handles bulk data or metadata about people who are not specifically targeted”, which many worry is what Snapchat will now be able to do. We don’t know for certain what these features are capable of, but it’s likely that they can track our location, access personal data, and even see our faces. Viral TikToks showing conversations with their AI have revealed that it can identify things outside of the picture frame, illustrating how the app can gather significantly more information from the small amount you provide. 

However, many have enjoyed the entertainment provided by their new online companion. The AI feature is powered by ChatGPT, designed to help with answering questions, writing essays, and engaging in human-like conversations - so its intentions are beneficial. Users can even customise the name and bitmoji, personifying the character even further. It has been designed to give appropriate responses, making it a safe feature for Snapchat’s younger users. 

We don’t know how these new technologies are using our data, so whilst there may be no harm, we should be cautious of what information we provide online.

Questions have certainly been raised about whether our devices are allowing open surveillance to becoming increasingly prevalent. We don’t know how these new technologies are using our data, so whilst there may be no harm, we should be cautious of what information we provide online. Accelerating societal changes are demanding greater technological advancement, but this comes at a cost, so we need to remain cautious.  

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