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TikTok Tests its Own In-App AI Chatbot, 'Tako'

TikTok is experimenting with its own AI chatbot, "Tako", set to improve user search and content discovery. Tako is currently under testing in selected markets.

TikTok Trials AI Chatbot 'Tako' for Enhanced User Experience

Jumping on the AI chatbot bandwagon, TikTok is currently testing its own in-app AI chatbot named 'Tako'. The chatbot is under limited testing in select markets, where it can be accessed via the TikTok interface, appearing above the user’s profile and other buttons such as likes, comments, and bookmarks.

Tako is designed to interact with users, answering their questions about videos through natural language queries, or offering content recommendations. For instance, if users watch a video about King Charles III's coronation, Tako might prompt them to ask, "What is the significance of King Charles III’s coronation?"

App intelligence firm discovered Tako during its public testing, a fact subsequently confirmed by TikTok. Although found Tako being tested on iOS devices in the U.S., TikTok has clarified that the current version of Tako is not available publicly in the U.S. However, the bot is under testing in other markets, including an early limited test in the Philippines. It is important to note that the bot will not appear on the accounts of minors.

According to TikTok, the AI chatbot has been developed with the help of a third-party AI provider and has been customized to suit TikTok's requirements. The current version of Tako doesn't employ any in-house AI technologies from TikTok or ByteDance.

Users are alerted upon first launch that Tako is still "experimental" and its responses may not be entirely accurate, similar to disclaimers associated with modern AI chatbots like OpenAI’s ChatGPT and Google’s AI. TikTok underscores that the chatbot should not be relied upon for medical, legal, or financial advice.

Tako chats will be reviewed for safety and to "enhance your experience," an indicator of the complexities that arise with the use of modern AI chatbots. From a privacy perspective, this means the AI conversations are not being deleted after chats end. However, similar to Snap's approach with its My AI chatbot, TikTok allows users to manually delete their chats with Tako.

The use of AI chatbots is not without its concerns. Some companies, such as Apple, Bank of America, Deutsche Bank, and others, have prohibited the use of these bots due to potential security risks and the threat of data leaks.

TikTok believes that the chatbot could be more than just a tool for answering questions about a video. It might also offer a new way for users to discover content, beyond typing queries into a search box. If successful, this could be a game-changer for TikTok, posing a potential threat to Google, particularly since Gen Z users are already increasingly turning to TikTok and Instagram for content searches.