Google Bard
Private conversations with Google Bard are being exposed via Google Search. Wikimedia Commons

There's a critical bug in Google's AI-powered chatbot Bard that allows private chats to be indexed by Google search. However, the search giant is sparing no effort to fix it.

The problem was discovered by SEO consultant Gagan Ghotra, who shed some light on the problem via an X (formerly Twitter) post.

Aside from indexing supposedly private Bard conversations, the AI bot's conversation URLs are being used as snippets to answer common search queries.

It is a great example of why people should avoid sharing personal information with these kinds of chatbots. Apparently, something confidential you share with Google Bard may find its way to Google Search, where everyone could see it.

Is chatting with an AI bot safe?

Similarly, a bug in OpenAI's ChatGPT AI bot started revealing chat histories to random users back in March. According to OpenAI CEO Sam Altman, the problem was caused by "a bug in the open source library" and was promptly fixed.

On top of that, more than 100,000 compromised ChatGPT accounts were sold on the dark web. These are major signs that any conversation you have with a chatbot is not private.

Ghotra received a response from the Google Search Liason X account. In its response, the folks at Google noted that while Bard offers the option to share chats, they were never intended to be indexed by Google Search. So, the company is working on a fix that will block that from happening.

How to stop Bard's conversations from being exposed?

Until Google rolls out a fix, there is something users can do to try and stop Google Search from posting their conversations with Bard online. Thankfully, the process does not involve wiping your chat history.

Simply go to the Bard website and click the Settings gear in the top right corner. Next, click Your Public Links. This will allow you to delete any links that have been created and should ensure your conversations do not appear in search results.

Moreover, you can turn off Bard activity and use a private browser to stop your conversations from appearing in Google Search. Since Bard is still in its initial phase, there's "no guarantee that your Bard conversations will never appear in Google Search".

In fact, the chatbot has other issues as well. Earlier this year, cybersecurity researchers at Check Point created a phishing email and keylogger and generated some simple ransomware code using Bard, exposing serious security flaws in the chatbot.

Regardless of the steps you take and fixes Google implements, it is important to avoid telling Google Bard anything you do not want random people to know. It is unclear who could have access to those conversations or what other bugs might be hiding in the chatbot.