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New AI Instagram feature sets low bar for platform

Platforms like Instagram and Facebook have recently begun incorporating Meta AI, ruining the search function and the social media experience for some. – Photo by TikTok

If you used any of Meta's social media platforms like Instagram or Facebook, you've probably noticed a new artificial intelligence feature pop up over the past few days. Meta AI has infiltrated its way into search bars, prompting users to ask any question they want the AI to respond to. This technology functions as a chatbot, allowing users to "converse" with it.

If you aren't a fan of AI, unfortunately, you're out of luck with this feature. Meta hasn't given users any option to disable Meta AI, even though the chatbot itself might tell you that you can. 

Lots of users are annoyed at this feature, and rightfully so. On Instagram in particular, it can get in the way of your regular online activities. For example, if you go to search for an account and accidentally click on Meta AI, the chatbot will send you a direct message that lingers over all of your other messages. 

Meta isn't the first company to incorporate an AI chatbot into their social media platforms. Last year, Snapchat introduced My AI, a chatbot with a customizable avatar that sits at the top of your conversations list. TikTok has also been adding plenty of video filters that generate art based on photos taken or input by the user.

The incorporation of AI into social media platforms opens up conversations about the presence of AI in our society in general. Programs like ChatGPT have become widely popular in academic settings, sparking concerns over cheating and other potential consequences.  

This doesn't mean it's going anywhere anytime soon, though. The program still regularly attracts millions of users.

Plenty of users also worry that these AI chatbots and programs are stealing their data for nefarious measures, which aren't unfounded concerns. These include mining personal data from users and utilizing photos without consent to create AI art or deep fakes, fake images and videos created with real people's faces. 

Meta AI's ability to generate images hasn't quelled any of these worries. On social media, specifically, there have been concerns about how young users will utilize the tool's power.

Snapchat's AI would bring up inappropriate topics like sex and alcohol to users, which may be inconsequential for an adult, but harmful for adolescents. While Meta AI is still new, there's lots of potential for it to go wrong. Given the staggering amount of young users on Instagram, hopefully, the AI will remain a G-rated tool. 

But because this feature can't be turned off, there's no way to bar it from young users.

Carefully clicking on Instagram and Facebook to ensure you don't accidentally trigger Meta AI might be annoying, but it can at least keep you as removed from this new feature as possible. And due to the discussions happening about the lack of ability to remove Meta AI, it's possible that Meta will make this an optional feature in the future. 

But, until then, one of the best precautions that users can take to avoid AI, is simply turning off their phone or deleting Instagram or Facebook. While this technology continues to become imbedded in academics and social life, it's important to prioritize your own mental health and safety. 

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