A recent report has revealed that Meta is planning to launch a range of AI chatbots across its social media services – which include Instagram, WhatsApp, and Facebook – as early as next month.
The goal of the chatbots is reportedly to increase user retention on the platforms, news which comes just days after CEO Mark Zuckerberg revealed over half of the Threads userbase has already deserted the app.
The rumored chatbots – called “Personas” by Meta staff – have already drawn similarities to character.ai’s chatbots.
What Are Meta’s “Personas”?
Meta has been working on prototypes for a series of AI assistants that could be integrated into its services in the name of boosting engagement, according to the Financial Times, who spoke to three individuals privy to the matter.
The chatbots, known internally as “Personas”, are character-based AI chatbots. One that converses like Abraham Lincoln, as well as a surfer that’s on hand to discuss potential travel destinations with users, are referenced as two that could be launched. Companies like character.ai already provide this sort of thing, but their chatbots are not nearly as capable or useful as the likes of ChatGPT.
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The company’s product group working on generative AI tools has been public knowledge since the beginning of the year, and was brought together to make “creative and expressive tools”, Zuckerberg said in February.
Meta’s User Retention Problem
Along with providing recommendations and functioning as a search tool, the Financial Times reports they’ll also simply be a fun tool for users to play around with – which may give Meta a welcome upper hand against rivals' social media platforms eating away at its popularity.
Of course, Meta is still the largest social media company in the world, with almost 4 billion users signed up to WhatsApp, Messenger, Instagram, Facebook, and Threads combined – but the last few years haven’t been the most successful of times for Mark Zuckerberg's empire.
Way back in February 2022, Facebook experienced a decline in users for the first time in its almost 20-year history. Now, Facebook is widely seen as an app for older demographics, while TikTok continues to entrench itself as the flagship “Gen Z” app.
Instagram has also suffered as a result of the rise of TikTok, and even BeReal, with some sources citing an increased focus on e-commerce and sponsored posts as a reason.
While this has been happening, attempts to launch TikTok-style short-form video features in Meta services such as Instagram have had mixed results.
The recent launch of threads, while initially impressive in its uptake, how now lost over half of the users that initially signed up.
Meta’s AI efforts and Llama 2
With Microsoft’s launch of ChatGPT, Google’s release of Bard, and a variety of other companies launching competing AI chatbots, you could be forgiven for thinking Meta is a little bit behind the curve when it comes to AI.
That’s not quite the case, however. Just a few weeks ago, Meta open-sourced the most recent version of Llama 2, which is available “free of charge and commercial use”. The tool is part of Meta and Microsoft’s “open ecosystem for interchangeable AI frameworks”.
Just two months prior, in May, the social media platform unveiled its first custom-designed computer chip manufactured to process AI programs, called the MTIA.
Meta is doing all the right things to compete in the AI arms race and is highly likely to be a major player in the near future.