ByteDance in timeout, OpenAI asserts misuse with GPT

  • OpenAI has suspended TikTok parent ByteDance’s account following allegations that ByteDance used OpenAI’s GPT AI technology to build its own rival chatbot service.
  • ByteDance allegedly depended on OpenAI’s application programming interface (API) in almost all stages of its AI product’s development. The practice appears to be in violation of OpenAI’s terms of service, which prohibit use of its AI platform to compete with its products and services.
  • Reports suggest that ByteDance regularly reached its usage limits with OpenAI and attempted to “whitewash” evidence of its OpenAI usage.
  • ByteDance reportedly received regulatory approval in China to launch its own AI chatbot, Duobao, last August, and promptly instructed to stop using OpenAI-generated text.

OpenAI, known for developing the ChatGPT, called out the secretive ‘Project Seed’ led by ByteDance. In response to the allegations, an OpenAI spokesperson announced the suspension of ByteDance’s account, pending further investigation. The spokesperson further emphasized that API customers must adhere to usage policies to ensure responsible use of their technology.

ByteDance reportedly has access to OpenAI’s tools through Microsoft, the AI firm’s key investor and partner, who also possess similar terms of service. The parent company of TikTok is said to have discussed how to “whitewash” their use of OpenAI within their internal messaging service, Lark.

The revelation about ByteDance’s use of OpenAI and the subsequent launch of its own AI chatbot, Duobao, has stirred concern about the company’s operations. These allegations could reignite worries, considering ByteDance’s ties with the Chinese government, and bring more scrutiny to its relations with Microsoft.

When asked for comment, a representative from ByteDance confirmed that the company engineers used OpenAI tools during the early stages of Project Seed, but any related text was pulled out of the chatbot’s data set earlier this year.

Notaring that Microsoft requires all AI customers to be approved for access, a Microsoft spokesperson declared that they provide resources to help customers use these technologies responsibly, have processes to detect misuse, and discontinue access if companies violate their code of conduct.