Report: Meta Tinkers With Chatbot ‘Personas’ to Keep Users Engaged

Meta AI

Would chatting with an artificial intelligence (AI)-powered Abe Lincoln keep you on Facebook?

That’s apparently what the platform’s owner is hoping, according to a report Tuesday (Aug. 1) by the Financial Times.

Meta, which owns Facebook and Instagram, has been developing chatbot prototypes — known as “personas” — that can carry on humanlike conversations with users, per the report.

A Meta spokesperson declined to comment when reached by PYMNTS.

Meta has explored launching a persona that speaks like the 16th president, along with a surfer character that offers travel advice, the report said. The chatbots could launch as soon as next month, designed to provide a new search function and recommendations.

The personas are also meant to be fun for users, which is a business gamble for Meta, as the company is facing competition from TikTok while also attempting to launch its own AI venture amid an increasingly crowded marketplace.

Last month, the company debuted a commercial version of its open-source AI model Llama 2, in partnership with Microsoft.

Meanwhile, in an earnings call last week, Meta CEO Mark Zuckerberg mentioned “three basic categories of our products or technologies” the company plans to build with generative AI.

The first is external-facing generative AI features which include “helping advertisers basically run ads without needing to supply as much creative” and filling other gaps, he said.

Another is the company’s in-house use of AI in “everything from helping engineers write code faster to helping people internally understand the overall knowledge base at the company, and things like that,” Zuckerberg said.

But the third category, PYMNTS wrote, is the one about which Meta leadership seems most excited: generative AI customer agents.

“We do think there’s going to be a big opportunity for businesses to leverage AI agents to respond to messages at scale in the future,” said Meta Vice President of Finance Chad Heaton. “So that’s kind of the opportunity we think over the longer term to hit more of the developed markets with click-to-messaging, but we are seeing good growth even today in advance of that.”