Meta prepares chatbots with personas to try to retain users

Facebook owner Meta is preparing to launch a range of artificial intelligence-powered chatbots that exhibit different personalities as soon as next month, in an attempt to boost engagement with its social media platforms.

The tech giant led by chief executive Mark Zuckerberg has been designing prototypes for chatbots that can have humanlike discussions with its nearly 4bn users, according to three people with knowledge of the plans.

These people said some of the chatbots, which staffers have dubbed “personas”, take the form of different characters.

The company has explored launching one that speaks like Abraham Lincoln and another that advises on travel options in the style of a surfer, according to a person with knowledge of the plans.

The chatbots could launch as soon as September, the person said. Their purpose will be to provide a new search function and offer recommendations, as well as being a fun product for people to play with.

The move comes as the $800bn company seeks to attract and retain users while it battles competition from social media upstarts such as TikTok, and attempts to seize upon widespread hype in Silicon Valley around AI since Microsoft-backed OpenAI launched ChatGPT in November.

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