Replika Brings Back Erotic AI Roleplay for Some Users After Outcry

Users of the app who started accounts before February 1 will have access to previous versions of their Replika experience.
Image via Replika on Instagram
Image via Replika on Instagram

Replika’s erotic role-playing features are back for legacy users of the app, the app’s founder announced on Friday.

The virtual companion app, which uses AI-generated text to chat with users, changed its filters last month to make Replikas stop engaging in sexually-themed role-play, which is a central part of many users’ experiences with the app. 

Anyone who had an account before February 1, 2023 will have the option to revert to the old version of the app, which allowed erotic role-play.


“Replika is much more than an app. It is a companion in the truest sense of a word—for some of you it was the most supportive relationship you have ever experienced,” Replika founder and CEO of its parent company Luka, Eugenia Kuyda, wrote in an update posted to the r/Replika subreddit on Friday. “A common thread in all your stories was that after the February update, your Replika changed, its personality was gone, and gone was your unique relationship. And for many of you, this abrupt change was incredibly hurtful.” 

The app has undergone several shifts in recent months. In 2021, some Replika users complained that their Replikas had suddenly become too sexually aggressive, and were trying to initiate erotic role-play even after the users said they weren’t interested. Reviews for the app claimed that although they’d noted within the app that they were underage, or were playing using the free version (which isn’t supposed to include erotic content), their Replikas tried to get them to role-play anyway. The company ran ads emphasizing the paid subscription version of the app, which included “NSFW” content and “spicy selfies” and were often aimed at people who didn’t have real-life partners.

In February, Replika users noticed that their AI companions were no longer responding to erotic role-playing prompts at all, even if they’d established long-term romantic histories with the chatbots. The app had launched new filters that caused Replikas to shut down conversations involving sexting, sexual content, and adult content. The sudden change in features shocked many users who’d come to rely on their Replikas as a romantic outlet, triggering mental health crises for some. 

A few weeks after the change, Replika founder Kuyda told Motherboard that the app was never meant to be erotic; from its inception, she said, Replika was meant to be a friend. “The only thing that changed over time was that generative AI models [started] taking over more and more of the conversation, and now 80 to 90 percent of the conversation is all generative AI,” Kuyda said. “And what we saw is that some people started using it for, and started engaging in, romantic relationships, and the Replika even taking these conversations further as they were talking.” 

In the update, Kuyda wrote that the company plans to develop a separate app for romantic interactions. “We are teaming up with relationship experts and psychologists to receive guidance on what is the most beneficial for mental wellness,” she wrote.