Does Character AI Save Chats, is It Safe, and What Data is Protected?

Character AI is a popular alternative to ChatGPT. It allows users to make their own chatbots that can imitate specific people, celebrities, professionals, and more. You can even use it to practice a new language, or play games.

But is it really safe to use?

Does Character AI save chats, and if so, how much of your data is it tracking?

The simple answer is yes, Character AI does save chats. It retains the conversations users have with a character so you can pick up the discussion later without starting from scratch.

The question is, does this mean you should avoid using Character AI, or do you simply need to be a little more cautious about the information you share? I dove into the privacy policy and security details of the popular chat platform to find out.

What is Character AI?

Character AI is a popular chatbot service that allows users to chat to AI-powered “characters” other people have built. For instance, you can chat to a bot built to replicate an anime character, that will use the same tone of voice, and language as that character, and have access to relevant information.

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The chatbot service was created by Noam Shazeer and Daniel De Freitas. De Freitas was also the person responsible for LaMDA, one of the most popular large language models at the beginning of the generative AI revolution.

Like most generative AI bots, the bots on Character AI need to gather information to learn and improve over time, and deliver a personalized experience. However, the amount of data collected by the app does create some security concerns for many users.

Does Character AI Save Chats?

Yes, as mentioned above, Character AI saves chats. You can see this for yourself if you check out the company’s privacy policy, or Terms of Service. Character AI collects all of the “user content” you share with the chatbots, such as your created characters, posted images, and chat communications.

The main reason for this is that Character AI wants to make it easy for you to continue conversations with the characters you like talking to. However, for many users concerned about the privacy of their data in the age of AI, this fact might raise some red flags.

Who Can See Your Chats on Character AI?

Unfortunately, Character AI doesn’t go into a lot of detail about who will have access to the chats saved by the system. Theoretically, there’s every chance the company’s employees could access and read those chats, or save them to help train other models.

Character AI’s chats don’t get encrypted like the messages you send to friends on WhatsApp, and you can’t simply delete your data, although you can delete a chat, or a character.

The good news is that other users of Character AI shouldn’t be able to see your chats. Typically, these chats will remain private to you unless you decide to screenshot them or share them publicly.

Creators of the chatbots you interact with shouldn’t be able to read your chats either. Although there may be an exception to this rule if you report a character for acting inappropriately.

Character AI’s Privacy Policy: The Data the System Saves

So, what kind of information does Character AI collect? We already know that the system stores your “user content”, such as chat communications and shared characters. But what else?

When sign up for an account with the service, you’ll need to provide an email address, create a username, and set a password. Character AI will collect that email address and username information, to communicate with you, and potentially gather insights it can use to improve its services.

According to the company’s privacy policy, Character AI also collects:

  • Data on the contents of any communications you have with the team.
  • Payment information (through payment processing vendors – this data is kept secure).
  • Automatically collected data, such as log data (IP address and name of device), website cookies, and usage information showing how you use the system.
  • Data from third parties if you’re referred to the system by another user.

The company’s terms of service also go further to say that it may access, review, screen, edit, delete, or modify content you submit to the service at any time.

What Does Character AI Use the Data For?

As I mentioned above, Character AI primarily collects data to provide, administer, and personalize the services it offers users. It also uses the information you provide to communicate with you, analyze and modify the performance of its solutions, and gain insights to drive future service development.

Like most companies, Character AI will also use the data it collects to detect and prevent fraud, ensure the security of its systems and networks, and comply with legal obligations.

If you’re worried about whether Character AI is sharing your data with anyone, it does say that it might disclose information to:

  • Affiliates
  • Vendors who need to perform services on their behalf
  • Legal groups, if necessary
  • Advertising and analytics partners

When it comes to your “user content”, Character AI says certain actions you take might be visible to other people who use the service, or result in content that’s made available to other users.

For instance, if you communicate using a group chat, everyone in that chat will be able to see your conversations and can potentially save those chats.

Character AI’s Privacy and Security Complexities

Ultimately, although Character AI’s privacy policy and terms of service include a lot of information, they don’t actually tell you much outright. Comparing the information to the privacy policy of something like ChatGPT left me with a lot of questions like:

  • Does Character AI use your chat data to train other bots?
  • Does the company train their staff members based on your data?
  • Is any of the chat data collected secured in any way during storage?

Is Character AI Safe and Secure?

All of this information might leave you a bit unsure about the safety of using something like Character AI, and it’s easy to see why. Ultimately, it’s hard to say whether Character AI is 100% safe.

Clearly, the company collects a lot of information about its users, and there’s not a lot of public information available about the security of the servers and networks.

While a user who creates a character might not be able to see the chats you have with that character (in most cases), there’s no encryption to stop staff members from reading as many chats as they like. Plus, it seems like bugs can make the security issue even worse.

One user in 2023 reported that a technical glitch caused some people’s chats to leak into other people’s chats. Of course, this isn’t the first example of generative AI suffering from privacy problems, ChatGPT has had issues with conversation titles being exposed too.

Plus, while Character AI has NSFW restrictions in place to try and prevent bots from acting aggressively or inappropriately, there’s always a chance something could go wrong. This could mean that your chats need to be investigated to find out what happened with the bot.

Does Character AI Have any Security Settings?

You might be wondering if there are any security settings you can implement to make your chats a little bit more secure.

After all, another way people could potentially access your chat content is by hacking into your account and reading through your messages.

However, Character AI doesn’t offer any two-factor or multi-factor authentication options. The password requirements aren’t particularly strict either.

For instance, you only need your password to be 6 characters long. However, you can always create a stronger password with lots of different letters and characters (which I recommend you do).

Ultimately, since there’s no guarantee that you can ensure the privacy of your chats with Character AI, I’d advise following some pretty basic security best practices.

For instance:

  • Use a strong password: Ignore the 6 character limitation and create a password that’s going to be difficult for potential hackers to guess, with upper and lowercase characters, numbers, and unique symbols (like !?)
  • Use a VPN: If you’re worried about Character AI collecting extra data about your location or IP address, you can use a VPN to mask that information. However, you will violate the terms of service if you use a VPN to try and circumvent a ban on your IP address.
  • Don’t share anything too private: Avoid sharing personal, private, or sensitive information with any chatbot you interact with online. This doesn’t just apply to Character AI, you never really know who has access to your data, or when it might be leaked.

Should You Use Character AI?

Ultimately, Character AI is a fun service that a lot of people enjoy. It can be great if you want to experiment with creating your own bots, or chat to different kinds of AI creations. However, I’d advise being cautious about how you use it.

Character AI collects a lot of data, saves your chats, and doesn’t really provide a lot of security settings you can use to protect yourself.

Keep that in mind before you start sharing your secrets with a chatbot designed to sound like your favorite movie character.

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Fritz

Our team has been at the forefront of Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning research for more than 15 years and we're using our collective intelligence to help others learn, understand and grow using these new technologies in ethical and sustainable ways.

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