What is Tako on TikTok? Users receive DM from mystery user

TikTok is slowly rolling out its new AI chatbot (Alamy/PA)
TikTok is slowly rolling out its new AI chatbot (Alamy/PA)

TikTok users were a little confused on Thursday, November 2 when they found a mysterious message from Tako in their inbox.

The video-sharing app previously revealed its plans to introduce an AI-powered chatbot on the platform to streamline and enhance usability.

After rolling out the feature in the Philippines, it looks like other users around the world are also getting a glimpse of an AI-powered social media future.

In the app's inbox, users could see a chat icon for Tako alongside a blue ghost symbol. However, they quickly realized that they were unable to interact with the chatbot, prompting them to try to get to the bottom of it on social media.

One TikToker wrote: "Who is tiktok tako and why are they messaging me?"

Another added: "We may finally see TikTok Tako available in more regions but there is no guarantee yet for this experimental AI chatbot. However, right now nothing happens when I click on it."

So what exactly is TikTok's Taco?

TikTok users were confused by the mysterious DM (Alamy/PA)
TikTok users were confused by the mysterious DM (Alamy/PA)

TikTok debuts new AI-powered chatbot

Earlier this year, TikTok confirmed the creation of a new AI-powered chatbot.

Identified as Tako, the experimental chatbot was ultimately designed to communicate with users and help them discover new content.

The first rollout happened in the Philippines, with a spokesperson saying: "In select markets, we're testing new ways to power search and discovery on TikTok, and we look forward to learning from our community as we continue to create a safe place that entertains, inspires creativity, and drives culture."

For those who got to try it out at the time, Tako could answer questions and direct people to relevant content. The goal, it seems, is to encourage people to use the app more and watch even more videos.

"It can answer questions, and have conversations with you,” the chatbot disclaimer explains, before adding that not everything might be accurate as it relies on AI.

Little has been shared about Tako following the Philippines trial, however, it seems like the team is now rolling it out even further.

However, the wider rollout may not have necessarily gone to plan. As some users have explained, they are so far unable to interact with the chatbot. Others have claimed on social media that the chatbot icon appeared and then disappeared.

It remains to be seen what developers have in store for Tako in the coming weeks.

How are other social media platforms competing?

Unsurprisingly, TikTok isn't the only platform that is exploring the use of AI. In July, a social media 'leaker' shared a screenshot that appeared to suggest Instagram was testing an AI feature.

The post said: "#Instagram is working on bringing AI Agents (Bots ) to your chats for a more fun and engaging experience. AI Agents will be able to answer questions and give advice. You'll be able to choose from 30 different personalities."

Meta, the parent company of Instagram, Facebook and WhatsApp had previously confirmed it was exploring how AI can help users.

"We’re introducing Meta AI in beta, an advanced conversational assistant that’s available on WhatsApp, Messenger, and Instagram," the platform said in September.

There were also some rumours that Elon Musk, current owner of Twitter-turned-X might have also been thinking about stepping into the chatbot game.

ZDNet reported earlier this year that Musk had purchased 10,000 graphic processing units (GPUs), which are known to be used in generative AI.