Meta is stuffing its AI chatbot into your Instagram DMs

On Friday, people around the web noticed a new addition to their Instagram: Meta AI, the company’s general-purpose, AI-powered chatbot that can answer questions, write poetry and generate images with a simple text prompt. The move isn’t surprising. Meta revealed Meta AI in September 2023 and has spent the last few months adding the chatbot to products like Facebook Messenger and WhatsApp, so adding it to Instagram seems like a no-brainer.

“Our generative AI-powered experiences are under development in various phases, and we’re testing a range of them publicly in a limited capacity,” a Meta spokesperson told Engadget, which suggests that not everyone has the feature available yet. TechCrunch, which first noted the news, said that Meta AI was showing up in Instagram’s search bar. But for some of us at Engadget, the feature actually showed up in the search bar in Instagram’s Direct Messaging inbox.

Tapping it let me start a conversation with Meta AI just I would DM a friend on Instagram. I was able to ask the chatbot to give me definitions of words, suggest headlines for some stories I’m working on, and generate images of dogs on skateboards. I was also able to ask Meta AI to recommend Reels with cats in them, which it was able to do easily.

But when my colleague Aaron Souppouris asked Meta AI in WhatsApp to recommend Reels, it showed him some Reels in that app too — suggesting that the bot in Instagram isn’t really doing anything specific to Instagram. Instead, Meta is simply shoehorning the same chatbot into every app it owns.

If you tap a hamburger menu within the bot, Meta AI will also show you a long list of possible actions you ask the bot to take.

Meta AI will present a list of actions you can ask the bot to take.Meta AI will present a list of actions you can ask the bot to take.

Aaron Souppouris

Why would you want a chatbot in Instagram to suggest tips for dealing with credit card debit, have a debate about cardio versus weights, or suggest hacks to travel with points, I do not know. But the point is that if you want to, you can.

Follow us

Don't be shy, get in touch. We love meeting interesting people and making new friends.