TikTok is now testing its own in-app AI chatbot named “Tako.” Unlike other chatbots, however, TikTok wants to use the bot to help users get more context about the content they are viewing or discover more videos from creators. And while this is good news for TikTok fans, it might mean additional privacy concerns already revolving around the famous app.

Nonetheless, it is important to stress that the feature is still under test and limited to certain markets. As noted by TikTok itself, it is in the “early stages of exploring chatbot tools with a limited test of Tako with select users in the Philippines.” Watchful.ai, however, claimed that it also found it being tested on iOS in the US. TikTok didn’t clarify this and said there are still no future plans regarding the feature. The company also admitted that Tako is being powered by a third-party chat assistant, which it didn’t name. 

Tako can be accessed in the right interface of TikTok and situated above the user’s profile and other buttons. Tapping it will bring the users to a messaging app-like interface, where they will get a prompt encouraging them to ask it different questions in natural language. Yet, as stressed by TikTok, the chatbot is meant “to help make it easier to discover entertaining and inspiring content on TikTok.” That means instead of general queries, which AI creations like ChatGPT are designed for, Tako is specialized in giving more context about specific content you are viewing.

Aside from answering queries related to the content, Tako can also suggest new content based on the users’ requests. It will provide suggestions in the form of thumbnails, complete with content details, such as the creator’s name. Users can then click the thumbnails to proceed to the video.

This ability to suggest content seems to be one of the main reasons behind the creation of Tako. It allows easier content discovery, and TikTok can leverage it to promote trends. However, it is unclear whether the bot will be available for everyone in the future. According to TechCrunch, Tako wouldn’t appear to minors, though it isn’t clear whether this condition would only apply during this test or even after it is released officially.

On the other hand, just like other AI creations, TikTok made it clear that Tako also has its flaws. As such, the company warned users about using the chatbot for serious topics, such as medical and legal. The company also shared that it would review the data from Tako as a promise to “enhance your experience.” Other details about the bot’s data privacy and retention also remain unclarified, which could further increase the security concern buildup involving TikTok. To recall, Western countries are already doubting TikTok’s privacy policies. Yet, by adding an AI chatbot, which is also worrying privacy and security advocates, TikTok might face bigger issues in the future. 

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