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Meta’s Looking to Help Instagram Influencers Create AI Bot Versions of Themselves

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Yeah, I’m not sure why Meta thinks that virtual chatbot versions of famous people is a great vehicle for A.I. in its apps.

Back in September, Meta unveiled its new in-stream chatbot experience, which enables users to interact with A.I. bots who respond “in the style” of various celebrities.

Meta AI chatbots

Which has always struck me as an odd use of A.I. Like, you’re not actually speaking to Kendall Jenner, you’re speaking to a chatbot that’s supposed to sound like her.

Does that make it a more engaging experience than chatting to a regular bot?

In any event, Meta seems to think that it does, because according to The New York Times, it’s now looking to expand this initiative by enabling Instagram influencers to also create their own A.I. bot versions of themselves.

As per NYT:

The program, which is in its early stages of testing and known as “Creator A.I.,” would allow influencers to chat with fans through direct messages on the social network and potentially through Instagram comments in the future, according to five people briefed on the company’s plans. The program will essentially be a chatbot that mimics the “voice” of the Instagram influencer to respond to fans, the people said.”

Meta’s been talking about this for some time, with the company experimenting with A.I. creation elements in-stream since late last year.

Meta AI chatbot creation

With this process, anyone would be able to create their own custom A.I. chatbot, which would be able to talk about things that they’re interested in.

But is that engaging, or interesting? Or more fundamentally, is it “social”, as these are, inherently, “social media” experiences?

According to NYT, the goal of this new initiative is to better enable creators with large followings to interact with fans, “while decreasing the amount of work required to personally respond to large numbers of messages and comments”.

But a bot response is not a real response. Chatting to a bot, especially if it’s disclosed as such (as Meta says it will be) is not new or novel, and it doesn’t replicate actual human engagement, it’s not going to feel like talking to the actual person.

Being best friends with a virtual version of MrBeast is kind of like a tech version of an imaginary friend. Right?

Under the new program, Meta will apparently look to train these bots on the creators’ Instagram posts, D.M.s, comments, and audio from Reels and Stories, in order to get their voice right.

But it won’t be them, it’ll be a bot responding as them. Which will be a more engaging experience, in Meta’s view at least.

But I don’t know, I get the concept from the perspective of trying to help creators with big followings maintain connection with their fans, but again, you’re removing the “social” element from the experience. And the more we move towards bots engaging on our behalf, the less “social” these apps become, which will eventually see them shift to being, what, “conversation apps” instead?

The real value of social media, especially from a fan perspective, is being able to follow celebrities and influencers and stay in touch with their projects, while also being able to connect with them directly, via comments and other interactions.

That immediate connection is a key value proposition of the medium, bringing us closer to our idols than ever before.

And now you’re looking to actively dilute that.

Because, what, you can?

I get that bot responders can have value in facilitating, say, responses from a brand for common queries. But I don’t believe that AI bots in the style of celebrities or influencers is a good, or valuable use of the tech.

I mean, for years, users have complained about bots on social apps, posting rubbish comments and trying to dupe people with spam D.M.s. But now, we’re supposed to be okay with it? Because they’re smarter bots?

Yeah, I don’t think Meta’s A.I. chatbot approach is the way to go, and I don’t think they’ll resonate with users, beyond being a brief novelty to see how they actually interact.

And in the end, they’ll just shift social media further away from its social roots.

But maybe I’m wrong. One way or another, we’re going to find out.

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