OpenAI suspends developer over ChatGPT bot that impersonated a presidential candidate

AI startup Delphi created a chatbot of Democratic candidate Dean Phillips for a group supporting his campaign.

REUTERS / Reuters

OpenAI has suspended the developer behind Dean.Bot, a ChatGPT-powered bot designed to impersonate Democratic presidential candidate Dean Phillips to help bolster his campaign, according to The Washington Post. The chatbot was created by AI startup Delphi for the super PAC We Deserve Better, which supports Phillips.

Dean.Bot didn’t all-out pretend to be Phillips himself; before engaging with Dean.Bot, website visitors would be shown a disclaimer describing the nature of the chatbot. Still, this type of use goes directly against OpenAI’s policies. A spokesperson for the company confirmed the developer's suspension in a statement to the Post. It comes just weeks after OpenAI published a lengthy blog post about the measures it’s taking to prevent the misuse of its technology ahead of the 2024 elections, specifically citing “chatbots impersonating candidates” as an example of what’s not allowed.

A disclaimer for the chatbot of Congressman Dean Phillips
A disclaimer for the chatbot of Congressman Dean Phillips (Dean.Bot)

OpenAI also said in its blog post that it does not “allow people to build applications for political campaigning and lobbying.” Per an earlier story by The Washington Post, the intent of Dean.Bot was to engage with potential supporters and spread the candidate’s message. Following the Post’s inquiry, Delphi initially removed ChatGPT from the bot and kept it running with other, open-source tools before ultimately taking it town altogether on Friday night once OpenAI stepped in.

If you visit the site now, you’ll still be greeted by the disclaimer — but the chatbot itself is down due to “technical difficulties,” presenting visitors with the message, “Apologies, DeanBot is away campaigning right now!” Engadget has reached out to OpenAI for comment.