OpenAI suspends developer of politician-impersonating chatbot

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OpenAI has suspended the developer responsible for Dean.Bot, a ChatGPT-powered chatbot designed to impersonate Democratic presidential candidate Dean Phillips.

The bot, created by “cloning” startup Delphi, aimed to support Phillips in his political campaign. However, this move directly contradicts OpenAI’s policies, leading to the suspension of the responsible developer.

The Washington Post reported that, despite displaying a disclaimer describing the nature of the chatbot to visitors, Dean.Bot’s purpose was clear: to engage with potential supporters and spread the candidate’s message.

OpenAI, in response, confirmed the suspension of the developer—emphasising the violation of their policies. This action follows OpenAI’s recent blog post outlining preventive measures against the misuse of its technology, specifically highlighting the prohibition of “chatbots impersonating candidates” in the lead-up to the 2024 elections.

Notably, OpenAI’s policies extend beyond this particular case—explicitly stating that applications for political campaigning and lobbying are not permitted.

In a crucial election year – not just in the US, but also in other Western democracies like the UK – it’s unsurprising that OpenAI is taking a firm stance against bots that could be seen to interfere and/or spread misinformation.

In response to the inquiry, Delphi initially removed ChatGPT from the bot and continued its operation using alternative open-source tools. However, OpenAI’s intervention prompted the ultimate suspension of the chatbot on Friday night.

Visitors to the Dean.Bot website are now told the chatbot is inaccessible due to “technical difficulties,” alongside a message that reads, “Apologies, DeanBot is away campaigning right now!”

(Image Credit: Gage Skidmore under CC BY-SA 2.0 DEED license)

See also: OpenAI launches GPT Store for custom AI assistants

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