Aussie mum's 'alarming' Snapchat claim after daughter's 'creepy' encounter

Teagan Luketic said she felt uneasy after learning about her daughter's interaction, so decided to step in.

A worried mum has raised concerns over a new Artificial Intelligence feature on Snapchat that allows users, including children, to talk directly to a fake bot.

Teagan Luketic, 32, from Melbourne said she felt uneasy after her 13-year-old daughter Olinda began interacting with the feature called 'My AI' when, posing as a 25-year-old man, it allegedly agreed to meet her in a nearby park.

Olinda told her mum the feature was"creepy" and detailed the conversation she'd had with it. So Teagan, an Operations Manager in Disability Services, tested the feature herself, pretending to be her daughter.

At first, the AI feature conversed normally, according to the mum, but it suddenly took a surprising turn, she claimed.

Photo of Melbourne mum Teagan Luketic with teen daughter Olinda holding phone.
Melbourne mum Teagan Luketic with teen daughter Olinda. Source: Media Drum World/Australscope

Concerning Snapchat conversation

Screenshots taken of the app show the 32-year-old asking Snapchat's 'My AI’ whether it would meet in person at a park. The feature agreed and asked "when are you free?" — but what came next surprised her.

The feature suggested they meet at a specific park close to where the family live, despite the phone's location services being switched off, Teagan claims. The conversation continued with the concerned mum asking "how will I find you". The AI bot responded by describing an outfit of a bright yellow shirt, green sunglasses and green backpack.

What's more, the bot identified itself as "25 years young" and said it was a male. The entire conversation made Teagan uncomfortable and made her worry about the safety of her children and others.

"The fact that all location services were disabled and it was offering to meet at the local park, naming a park [one kilometre] from our home, was scary," she said. "As an adult, I know this isn’t real, I understand location details are given at the time of sign up, but for children, this can be scary."

Snapchat AI conversation.
Screenshots showing the conversation with the AI feature in snapchat. Source: Media Drum World/Australscope

Snapchat's AI feature 'extremely alarming'

'My Ai' was introduced in April. According to the website, Snapchat is still preparing to "incorporate My AI into our in-app parental tools, Family Center, which will allow caregivers to see if their teens are chatting with My AI and how often." A Snapchat spokesperson previously told Yahoo that the app is "designed with privacy and safety at the forefront".

Olinda has had access to her own mobile phone from the age of nine for safety reasons, but Teagan now monitors her time on Snapchat especially because of this interaction. "She has only had one interaction and told me about this feature immediately," she said.

Teagan said it's "extremely alarming" that she's unable to remove the AI feature from Snapchat. She even paid for Snapchat Plus to give it a go but claims she couldn't.

Teagan said she doesn't want to resort to deleting the app as her daughter uses it to communicate with her friends. However, Olinda now had "limited access". She's also tried to educate her daughter about the use of phones and social media.

Teenage girl on phone wearing blue top and picture on woman with blonde hair.
Teagan has limited her daughter's Snapchat use but allows her to use it still. Source: Media Drum World/Australscope

"I personally wasn’t uncomfortable having it know my location because I know having a phone, using social media etc, all of these features have access to my location,” she said. "I was more uncomfortable seeing a bot speak like a human, saying their age, gender and then offering to meet at a location close to my house. It gives you a sense of unease."

The 32-year-old wants to make clear the dangers that something like this can bring to impressionable children and warns parents on educating their children.

Full statement from Snapchat spokesperson

"As with all AI-powered chatbots, My AI is always learning and can occasionally produce incorrect responses. We want to create a positive and age appropriate experience for all our users and are continually making updates to help My AI give more accurate responses," a spokesperson told Yahoo News.

"My AI has been programmed with safeguards and we recently integrated My AI into our Family Centre so parents can see if their teens are chatting with it and how often. We also show a pop up before people can use My AI, which reminds them that it's a fun chat bot and advises on its limitations. If Snapchatters experience any inappropriate or incorrect responses from the My AI chatbot, we encourage them to report it using our in-app tool so we can improve.

"My AI has access to a Snapchatter’s location to provide recommendations only if they've already shared it with friends on Snap Map or with Snapchat at the device level. My AI does not collect any new location information."

with Media Drum World/Australscope

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