Meta could launch AI-powered “personas” in its services — which include Facebook and Instagram — as soon as next month, giving users a new way to search, get recommendations, and otherwise engage with its products, the Financial Times reports. Citing conversations with three company insiders, the FT notes that the chatbots could come with distinct personalities, including one that offers travel recommendations “in the style of a surfer” and another that speaks like Abraham Lincoln.
The imminent launch could help Meta compete on two fronts. On the one hand, built-in chatbots could be a way to boost engagement with services like Facebook and Instagram in the face of competition from the likes of TikTok. On the other, the chatbots could serve as a display of Meta’s AI capabilities as it competes with Microsoft-backed OpenAI and Google’s Bard.
Meta CEO Mark Zuckerberg has been open about his plans to build “AI personas” into the company’s products. In February he announced the creation of a new product group focused on generative AI. “Over the longer term, we’ll focus on developing AI personas that can help people in a variety of ways,” Zuckerberg wrote. “We’re exploring experiences with text (like chat in WhatsApp and Messenger), with images (like creative Instagram filters and ad formats), and with video and multi-modal experiences.”
“We’re exploring experiences with text... with images... and with video and multi-modal experiences”
In early June, app researcher Alessandro Paluzzi spotted signs of a new “Chat with an AI” feature in the Instagram app that would be able to answer questions and give advice in the style of 30 different AI personalities. The chatbot could also help users compose messages, according to the leak.
Zuckerberg again mentioned the company’s AI initiatives in an earnings call last week. He said the company is building them using its own LLaMA large language model. “You can imagine lots of ways that AI can help people connect and express themselves in our apps, creative tools that make it easier and more fun to share content, agents that act as assistance, coaches or that can help you interact with businesses and creators and more,” the CEO said. More details on Meta’s AI road map are expected to be announced at its Connect developer event in September.
While the CEO’s comments have emphasized the benefits such chatbots could have for Meta’s users, the Financial Times notes that they could also provide the company with more data on their interests to help with ad targeting. In the past couple of months, rival social media company Snap has tested adding sponsored links into its ChatGPT-powered My AI chatbot.
A spokesperson from Meta did not immediately respond to The Verge’s request for comment.