If you’re trying to understand LLM content output and how it’s actually being displayed and used on the frontend user interface, you might run into the question: Does the LLM have access to the internet? Does it have web browsing capabilities?

This is a very valid question if you are working as a SEO or if you just want to understand if there might be website traffic to be gained from citations and links within ChatGPT or Google’s AI Overview or Perplexity.ai.

If you use ChatGPT with GPT-4 or 4o for example, you might have seen that you can activate web browsing capabilities in the settings.

Simply go to Customize ChatGPT and you will find those GPT-4 Capabilities listed:

  • Browsing
  • DALL-E
  • Code

But let’s get one step back. Which provider accesses the internet when using a certain LLM and can conduct web browsing?

Which LLM has Internet Access?

ModelProviderAccess to internet
GPT-4oOpenAIyes (for Plus or Enterprise customers)
GPT-4OpenAIyes (for Plus or Enterprise customers)
GPT-3.5OpenAIno
Claude 2Anthropicno
Claude 3Anthropicno
Llama 3Metano
GeminiGoogleyes

To be very clear: There’s lot of development done right now and things are changing regularly. But to mention: LLMs per se don’t have direct access to the internet, but as a user interacting with those LLMs might receive web browsing capabilities on top of it. Meaning: In addition to the “pure LLM output” the LLM provider (e.g. OpenAI) might search the internet for a more accurate output.

As a user you are then able to see real-time information and potentially more accurate information. You might recognize this by citations and links provided in the interface.

Example: ChatGPT with GPT-4o

Example: Google AI Overview

PS: You might also like this article on LLM knowledge cutoff dates.

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