Social media giant Meta, parent company of Facebook, is planning on deeply integrating generative AI into its products according to statements made by CEO Mark Zuckerberg in a first quarter earnings call.
“The major focus of our AI work is foundation models to enable a lot of new use cases including Generative AI” he said on the call. “I think that there’s an opportunity to introduce AI agents to billions of people in ways that will be useful and meaningful.”
He added the company is exploring chat experiences and WhatsApp and messenger, visual creation tools for posts and Facebook and Instagram and ads, as well as video and multimodal experiences.
“I expect that a lot of interest in AI agents for business messaging, and customer support will come once we nail that experience,” he noted.
Chief Financial Officer Susan Li said the company would invest $33 billion in building out AI capabilities, noting AI-driven recommendations are growing and contributing to increasing engagement on the Facebook app.
“We’re not quantifying this, but it’s a place where I think we are both pleased with our progress and see significant opportunity for us to do better,” she said.
Nicole Greene, vice president, analyst in the Gartner marketing practice notes AI technology is hurtling down a familiar path to social media.
“Technology leaders are putting this technology into commercial and consumer use with little regulation or oversight,” she says. “The concept of AI being developed for the betterment of society is under increased scrutiny.”
She explains generative AI does a great job of learning what’s next, of meeting people where they are and trying to help them make the next choice.
“In an ideal world only good would come of this, truthful and trusted information, to help make society stronger,” Greene says. “But we’ve already seen that social can drive misinformation and support bad actors”.
She points out social media already makes it hard to distinguish what’s real from fake, from filters project enhanced reality to conversations are taken out of context.
“As AI tools improve the quality of content creation across text, images and video, that line will be harder to identify and will require that consumers use more critical thinking to determine if messages can be trusted,” she says.
Greene adds it will be hard for social platforms to resist the opportunity to sell new features that may further escalate the capabilities to create and share synthetic content that may not be truthful or trustworthy on their platforms.
The reality of AI use cases in social will include aspects of content curation, which may have the adverse effect of reinforcing consumer filter bubbles to only engage with content they react to, which can exaggerate misinformation.
“As bots and AI applications within social media platforms become more sophisticated, brands will need a renewed focus on security, fraud, brand reputation and business threats,” Greene says.
Shri Charan Padala, principal analyst, thematic intelligence at GlobalData, says investment in generative AI technology is a strategic move that could provide significant benefits for the company’s advertising business.
GlobalData’s social media analytics platform found that while there were few influencers discussing Meta’s AI focus for its products, many influencers were talking about the broader impact of AI in shaping the social media landscape.
“While the potential benefits of AI technology are significant, it is important for Meta to ensure that the use of AI technology is balanced with ethical considerations and the protection of users’ privacy,” Padala says.
Prashant Saxena, practice head at GlobalData, adds multiple Twitter influencers are discussing the impact of AI in shaping the social media landscape.
“The tweets highlight how various social media platforms such as Facebook, Instagram, TikTok, and YouTube, are using AI to offer better recommendations and advise to improve personalization and user experience on their platforms,” he explains.
The usage of AI is not limited to content recommendations but also for content creation, optimizing advertising revenue and optimizing engagements.
Padala notes the increasing use of AI algorithms in social media raises concerns about ethical dilemmas and data privacy.
“Despite these concerns, Meta’s increased investment in generative AI technology reflects a broader trend in the social media landscape, where various social media platforms, including Facebook, Instagram, TikTok, and YouTube, are using AI to offer better recommendations, improve personalization and user experience, optimize advertising revenue, and optimize engagements,” he says.