Meta could be the latest company to test the social potential of AI chatbots.
A screenshot shared by leaker Alessandro Paluzzi on Twitter shows what seems to be an intro screen for the new Instagram feature. It says the chatbots will be able to answer questions, give advice, and help users write messages. It also says that users will be able to choose between “30 AI personalities and find which one you like best.”
Meta hasn’t announced any formal plans for such a feature, but chatbots would fit past statements about the company’s AI ambitions. In February, CEO Mark Zuckerberg said Meta was “developing AI personas that can help people in a variety of ways” and that the company was exploring how to make such bots accessible through text conversations “like chat in WhatsApp and Messenger.”
Other companies have also seen the potential of chatbots as an engaging social feature. Snapchat launched its own “My AI” chatbot (powered by OpenAI’s ChatGPT) in February. And sites like Character.ai have achieved significant popularity by allowing users to train and talk to chatbots based on popular fictional characters. Even bots not intended for social engagement have been adopted for this purpose. When Microsoft launched its Bing chatbot earlier this year, many users were surprised, disturbed, and delighted in equal measure by the bot’s strange conversational patter.
The difficulty for companies, though, is creating a bot that’s engaging and fun to talk to but doesn’t cross the line into offensive or dangerous interactions. For example, not long after Snap released its “My AI” bot, it began offering disturbing advice to users, including encouraging an individual pretending to be 13-years-old to have sex with their 31-year-old “boyfriend.” In March, a Belgian man died by suicide, with his widow claiming that he had been encouraged to kill himself by a chatbot he’d been talking to regularly.
It’s not clear if Meta genuinely intends to launch such bots on Instagram, or what safety steps it may take. We reached out to the company for comment and they declined. The leaker of the above screenshot, Paluzzi, has a reliable track record for spotting upcoming app features, including a BeReal Instagram clone and a co-author feature on Twitter.
Update Wednesday, June 7th, 05:49AM ET: Updated with response from Meta.