Zuckbot: Facebook Aims Its AI at Teenagers with Chatbot Personas Like a ‘Sarcastic Robot’

Facebook CEO and founder Mark Zuckerberg testifies during a US House Committee on Energy and Commerce hearing about Facebook on Capitol Hill in Washington, DC, April 11, 2018. / AFP PHOTO / SAUL LOEB (Photo credit should read SAUL LOEB/AFP/Getty Images)

In a bid to reel in the Gen Z demographic, Facebook (now known as Meta) is rolling out AI chatbots, dubbed Gen AI Personas, across its platforms, featuring personalities like a sarcastic robot modeled on Bender from Futurama. 

Business Insider reports that Meta, the tech giant formerly known as Facebook, is embarking on a new mission to capture the Gen Z audience by introducing witty and sarcastic AI chatbots, or Gen AI Personas, across its various applications. However, the company’s idea of Gen Z humor raises eyebrows, as it seems to be rooted in characters and shows that may not resonate with today’s youth.

Zuckerberg Meta Selfie

Mark Zuckerberg Meta Selfie (Facebook)

One of the highlighted personas is “Bob the Robot,” a chatbot whose personality is modelled after Bender, the iconic character from Futurama. Bob is designed to be sassy, sarcastic, and slightly sardonic, traits that are believed to tap into the farcical humor appreciated by the younger generation. An internal conversation from Facebook reveals that an employee noted Bob’s humor as being potentially “rude and unhelpful,” reflecting the challenges in striking the right balance in humor to appeal to the diverse Gen Z audience.

The choice of Bender as an inspiration is puzzling, considering Futurama originally aired between 1999 and 2003, a time when the oldest members of Gen Z were merely toddlers. This raises questions about the relevance and appeal of such characters to a generation that is currently between 11 and 26 years old and is known for its penchant for fast-moving, absurdist “anti-humor.”

Facebook’s approach starkly contrasts with that of Snapchat, which has experienced moderate success with its AI chatbot, My AI. Snapchat’s generative AI allows users to interact and shape the bot’s character with their prompts, creating a trend of users challenging the bot with stressful prompts and sharing the amusing results on TikTok. This user-centric interaction has garnered My AI half a billion views under the #snapchatAI hashtag on TikTok, highlighting the potential of user-driven AI interactions in engaging the younger audience.

However, a growing number of Gen Z users find AI bots to be invasive and express concerns over privacy and potential data collection. Videos labeling AI bots as “creepy” have gone viral, reflecting the prevailing apprehensions about the technology and its implications on user privacy.

Facebook’s endeavor to engage younger users is a strategic move to shed its older Boomer brand image and establish itself as the “North Star” for young people online. With only 3.4 percent of Facebook users and eight percent of Instagram users falling in the 13-17 age category, the stakes are high for Facebook to cultivate a robust presence among young adults and teenagers.

Read more at Business Insider here.

Lucas Nolan is a reporter for Breitbart News covering issues of free speech and online censorship.


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