Earlier this week, it was discovered that transcripts of conversations with Google’s AI chatbot, Bard, were appearing in search results.
This immediately raised privacy concerns, as one-on-one conversations were being surfaced publicly without peoples’ knowledge.
In response, Google has confirmed this indexing was unintentional and is working to block Bard chat transcripts from appearing in search results.
Google Confirms Chatbot Transcript Indexing Was Unintentional
Days later, Google’s Search Liaison shared an update on X, writing:
“While I’m not on the Bard team, I know that removing Google URLs from Google can sometimes be more complicated than for non-Google sites. You’re going to see some short-term changes in the blocking that should settle down into what makes sense for non-Google sites.”
Removing Own URLs More Complex for Google
Google’s statement acknowledges the unique challenge Google faces in removing its web pages from search, compared to non-Google sites.
While blocking regular sites can be done instantly, Google notes that removing URLs often involves “short-term changes” before achieving the desired effect.
Google is working on it, but thoroughly scrubbing Bard chat transcripts from search results will take time.
Bard Users Advised To Avoid ‘Share Chat’ Feature
As Google works to remove Bard transcripts from search results, users are advised to refrain from utilizing Bard’s “share chat” feature, as this creates a public, indexable link.
Private conversations that aren’t shared should remain unseen by search engines.
Google emphasized that search indexing was never an intentional Bard feature, and it aims to respect user privacy in the future.
However, the chatbot’s rocky launch has potentially damaged trust, making this latest privacy flub problematic.
Exercise Caution When Sharing Sensitive Info with AI
Expect Bard transcripts to dwindle from search results gradually. Exercise caution when sharing sensitive information with any AI chatbot.
While mistakes happen, Google’s handling of this incident will likely be scrutinized.
Google’s ability to swiftly solve self-created problems will be vital to maintaining trust and a positive public perception.
For a company desiring to lead in AI development, earning user trust should be Google’s top priority.
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