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Instagram users are getting a suite of generative AI features

The news: Instagram will soon let users toy with generative AI to create “stickers,” edit photos, and more, dataminers have found, as Meta continues to make the technology a centerpoint of its social media plans.

  • Other AI features include summaries of unread direct messages and an AI chatbot, following similar features from other social media competitors.

Meta’s bet on AI: The social media giant has shifted priorities away from its namesake metaverse division (though it’s still spending there) and is instead focusing on the new buzzy technology.

  • Meta has made its language learning model Llama 2 available for developers to use for free in an effort to catch up to AI leaders Microsoft and Google. In a statement last month, CEO Mark Zuckerberg said that the company plans to “build [AI] into every single one of our products.”
  • So far, that’s taken shape as a series of features for advertisers. Meta said it is using AI to build out a predictions system that will let advertisers anticipate user interests and behaviors—an effort to find new targeting strategies after the disruption of Apple’s AppTrackingTransparency change.
  • Meta is also rolling out a generative AI sandbox that will let advertisers cheaply produce creative advertising material for use across the company’s apps, opening up a new well of smaller advertisers who can’t afford to spend on large campaigns.

AI for consumers: Popular with key demographics and one of the leaders in time spent with social media, Instagram is serving as Meta’s testing ground for new features and initiatives like search advertising and Instagram Threads. Its popularity makes it the ideal space to test consumers’ appetite for AI.

  • Sentiment around AI is generally low. Consumers are fearful of its potential to replace human jobs, don’t trust it to make shopping recommendations, and are concerned about its impact on data privacy, among other issues. Companies like Meta, on the other hand, are gung-ho and investing heavily in the tech.
  • Instagram’s upcoming generative AI features could help bridge that gap. Throughout 2023, AI-generated services like professional headshots, portraits, and image generation have gone viral on multiple occasions, showing a consumer appetite for AI as something of a toy or for “harmless” use cases.
  • Those sorts of uses are a perfect fit for Instagram, which already has a host of photo and video editing features. Chatbots also fill a similar function; that’s why Snapchat and Discord have both created chatbots that can be toyed with in group chats.

Our take: AI offers a chance for Meta to kill two birds with one stone by improving consumer sentiment around artificial intelligence while also increasing time spent on the platform. Rounding out its creative features will also help Meta demonstrate how it’s working to compete with YouTube and TikTok’s creative options.