Privacy Alert: OpenAI Shuts Down ChatGPT – What Happened and Why

OpenAI ChatGPT

You may remember that a few days ago, the ChatGPT website was down for several hours. At the time, we heard various suggestions as to why this had happened. The official answer was that OpenAI had to take the chatbot offline for emergency maintenance. They had to do this after a user was able to exploit a bug in the system. The other day, OpenAI gave us more details about what happened.

What Happened With ChatGPT?

On Tuesday, a ChatGPT user posted screenshots on Reddit showing the histories of other users. Although we could only see the titles of the conversations, not the text itself, this caused a huge stir on the web. That’s why OpenAI had to take it offline for almost 10 hours to understand how this could happen and fix it. They found that this was not the biggest problem: the bug had also exposed the personal details of 1.2% of ChatGPT Plus subscribers.

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ChatGPT Bug

Due to the bug, some users got the wrong emails confirming the subscription of other users between 1 am and 10 am Pacific time on Monday, 20 March. The emails contained personal information such as the last four digits of another user’s credit card number. The full credit card numbers were not visible. Other information in the emails included the first and last name, email address, payment address, and credit card expiration date of active ChatGPT Plus users.

“In the hours before we took ChatGPT offline on Monday, it was possible for some users to see another active user’s first and last name, email address, payment address, last four digits (only) of a credit card number, and credit card expiration date,” the OpenAI team wrote on Friday.

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According to the company, they’ve fixed the bug, and it shouldn’t happen again. They say that users will only see their conversation history. In addition, the company informed the affected users about the case and provided appropriate instructions.

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