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The Good, The Bad, and the Artificial: Our Take On Meta AI

Ryan Allen
June 10, 2024

It’s April 23rd, 2024. You wake up, drag yourself out of bed, pour yourself a cup of coffee, and open up the Facebook app on your phone to see what you missed while you were sleeping. You hit the search button to look something up and there it is: “Ask Meta AI anything”. You’re stunned, still a bit groggy from the night before, and think maybe you’re hallucinating. You ask yourself, “Was this…always here?” Obviously the answer is “No”, but still, you think Facebook is playing a trick on you. 

You jump over to Instagram, and – OMG – there it is again. Instagram all of a sudden wants you to ask it anything, when all you wanted to do was go to the ESPN account and catch some highlights from last night’s game. In a single morning, your experience with your favorite Meta apps got a little more…artificially intelligent. And guess what? You can’t turn it off.

Unless you’ve been living in an underground bunker, hoarding canned food and cut off from the rest of the world (which actually sounds kind of awesome), you’re probably quite aware that AI is everywhere. OpenAI’s ChatGPT has the same brand recognition as Coke and McDonald’s, countless think pieces have been published raving about its endless possibilities, and now it lives rent free, front and center, in Meta’s user interface (as well as behind the scenes). So is Meta’s choice to integrate AI into its platform in a very up front way a good thing or a bad thing? Can it be both? Let’s discuss…

What the Heck is a Llama 3?

First, we need to break down how Meta AI works. The tech giant has invested heavily in its open-sourced AI tool called Llama 3, and claims that it rivals the ChatGPTs and Geminis of the world. Now that they’ve literally put it in the hands of everybody with a Facebook account, its functionality will surely get put to the test. 

Cool. So, like, what does it do, exactly? Well, in simple terms, it’s meant to further personalize the experience of Meta’s platforms, including content delivery with more relevant and engaging experiences tailored to user’s interests and preferences. It also helps identify harmful content (like hate speech and fake news), allows advertisers more precise targeting abilities, and improves accessibility features for users with disabilities. Now, that doesn’t sound all bad, does it?

The Artificial Elephant in the Room

Not so fast, Mr. Positive! There’s some obvious concerns with Meta AI (and AI in general), including how it affects user privacy. There’s also some worry around the fact that AI algorithms are prone to bias, which can result in discriminatory outcomes (think disproportionately targeting certain demographic groups with ads or content, which could fuel existing inequalities). Other concerns, like the fact that relying too much on automation can lead to errors, or the underlying concern that, you know, AI is going to take all our jobs one day…and yeah, the future might seem a little more Idiocracy than we’d like.

Get Your AI Outta My Search Bar (Or Maybe Keep It? I’m Not Sure)

But let’s talk about the AI elephant in the room – that dang “Ask Meta AI anything” addition to the search bar, chat, and elsewhere. First, let’s dig into what it does. 

According to Meta, users can interact with the new AI search feature through the platform’s search bar or dedicated search pages. By entering keywords or phrases related to their interests, users can access personalized search results generated by Meta’s AI algorithms. As users engage with search results and recommendations, Meta’s AI continuously learns and adapts to better serve their needs, providing a more intuitive and personalized search experience over time. On vacation and want to know the best restaurant near you? Ask Meta AI. Want to get the latest tour dates for your favorite band? Ask Meta AI. Need some tips on how to take wildlife photos? You get it.

Screenshot of Meta AI search bar on Instagram

Oh, and you can also ask it to imagine a hot dog eating a taco eating a hamburger, if you want (it’s not perfect, by the way).

Screenshot of Meta AI chat. Asked to image a hot dog eating a taco eating a hamburger, replying with a picture of hot dogs and burgers inside taco shells.

So yeah, that all seems cool, right? So why are people – like TikTok user @psithuristicdesire – SO PISSED about it?



♬ original sound – Star

Or what about X user @MaKaylaMaShelle?

What’s the Big Deal?

So what’s got these folks so fired up? Is it privacy concerns? Is it content bias? Maybe? But we think it’s something way more simple: Sometimes AI is kind of annoying. 

Look, people hate change. It’s been proven time and time again. But, at the same time, change is inevitable. In the world of social media apps and technology, change is literally happening all the time. There’s not a day that goes by that some social media platform rolls out a change (we see you X), and for better or worse, users have to deal with it or leave the platform. 

The truth is, a lot of these changes are easy to ignore (or in some cases, deactivate). For example, when Instagram launched its Notes feature a few years ago, it only appeared in the messages section of the app. And guess what? It’s still there. It’s out of the way, not invasive, and you can turn a blind eye to it, more or less. But by putting Meta’s AI search functionality in sections of Facebook and Instagram that are engaged with daily by its users, the experience is way more in your face, invasive, and hard to ignore. Sure, you can bypass the AI by just, you know, typing in your search, but the lack of control and even just seeing the words “AI” can send some users into a tailspin.

So, Can You Turn It Off?

Nope. And if you’re Meta, that’s kind of the point. The tech world has essentially turned into an AI arms race, and Meta wants to make sure it’s at the front of the pack. By integrating AI into everything from search to chat, Meta is essentially indoctrinating its users into accepting the technology as part of their everyday lives, likely to the point where they just get used to it and give up complaining. 

Ok, so you can’t turn it off. Perhaps you’re wondering, “Are there some workarounds?” The short answer is yes, but they might not be universally loved. For instance, you can “mute” the AI feature, but once disabled you can no longer use the search bar at all. You can also hop in a time machine and use a basic version of Facebook (intended for users in developing countries with slower Internet connections), but that won’t help you if you’re an Instagram or WhatsApp devotee. In other words, “womp womp”.

What’s Our Take?

You’re probably wondering what a social and tech-forward agency like Random thinks of all this. Well, it depends. We use AI all the time (heck, we even wrote a children’s book using AI technology). As a small team of content creators, it helps us work smarter and quicker than ever before. 

In the case of Meta AI, there’s loads of benefits for content creators and social media managers, like:

  • AI-powered analytics tools
  • Automated content creation tools that can help create multimedia like images and videos
  • Voice-to-text tools to dictate content and transcribe audio versions of written conten
  • Meta’s AR Studio that enables creators to design and deploy interactive augmented reality effects for photos and videos. 

All that said, it’s hard to not feel exhausted by AI popping up in every platform under the sun. Kind of like your drunk uncle that keeps interrupting that really important story you’re trying to tell at a family gathering. Sometimes we just want to perform simple tasks without AI trying to help all the damn time. 

What Should You Do?

So whether you love it or hate it, Meta continues to deploy AI-driven solutions. It’s essential to weigh the benefits against the risks and ensure that these technologies are deployed responsibly and ethically. And ask it to make you a picture of a hot dog eating at taco eating a hamburger from time to time.

Want to work with an agency that takes a realistic approach to AI solutions? Contact us today!

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