Apr 7, 2024 - Technology

Popular AI homework helper Gauth shares owner with TikTok

Illustration of a zero and a one balancing on the tip of a pencil

Illustration: Natalie Peeples/Axios

TikTok owner ByteDance also quietly operates one of the most popular education-related apps on the market: generative AI-powered Gauth, a homework aid with millions of downloads.

Why it matters: While TikTok's future in the U.S. is unclear as Congress takes aim at its China-based owner, Gauth has flown comparatively under the radar despite having a presumably similar, young user base.

  • Gauth was within the top 3 free education applications this week in Apple's App Store and the Google Play store, beat out by Duolingo on both.
  • Forbes reported that the app recently boasted having 200 million users on its website.
  • Gauth also appears to be hiring: ByteDance has a job posting for user research at Gauthmath based in LA. GauthExpert, a homework help service, is hiring tutors for up to $1,500 per month and schedule/location flexibility.

Catch up quick: The U.S. House last month rapidly advanced a bill that would force ByteDance to sell TikTok or face a ban in the U.S., citing national security concerns. The legislation has been stalled in the Senate.

  • China's government can use TikTok to spy on American users and push propaganda at alarming levels, senators who received a classified briefing on the social media app told Axios last month.

State of play: Gauth was launched in 2020 under the name Gauthmath, billed as an expert's solution to seeing his students struggle.

  • To use the app, users upload photos of problems across common school subjects on materials like paper or screens, and the app populates a solution.
  • Gauth offers help with subjects across disciplines from calculus and chemistry to writing and social science.
  • With math and science, the system provides answers to problems as well as the steps to get there. The AI can also create essays in response to a prompt.
  • ByteDance and Gauth did not respond to Axios' request for comment on Gauth.

Between the lines: Teens make up much of TikTok's user base, and have also been among the most susceptible to the mental health harms caused by its use. (It is also the main place Gen Z gets news.)

  • As students, Gauth users fall in the same age bracket. Per its terms and conditions, users should be 13 or older.
  • In its privacy policy, the app says it collects registration information, user content, such as photos and comments, chats, contacts and purchase information. It also has access to users' location.

The big picture: Nicknamed the "app factory," ByteDance is the world's most valuable venture capital-backed startup, Axios' Dan Primack reports.

Go deeper: Exclusive: Educators divided over AI's impact

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