Instagram + AI, Meta usher in Google times?

Written by
Taiwo Oluwole

Meta is stepping up its efforts to make its generative AI-powered products accessible to more users. Not only is the company hitting the shelves of WhatsApp-based Meta AI chatbots in countries like India, but it's also experimenting with adding Meta AI to Instagram's search bar, allowing users to both chat with the AI and discover new content.

When you enter a query in the search bar, it takes you to a private message conversation with Meta AI where you can ask a question or use a preset prompt. The design of this prompt screen made Aravind Srinivas, CEO of Perplexity AI, notice that Meta AI's interface is quite similar to the design of Perplexity AI's search screen.

But not only that, Meta AI also helps you discover new content on Instagram. For example, a video posted by a user on Threads shows that you can click on prompts like "beautiful Maui sunset clips" to search for clips on related topics.

Additionally, some users TechCrunch spoke with were able to ask Meta AI to search for movie recommendations for them.

This means that Meta plans to harness the power of generative AI not just for text generation, but also to use it to mine new content from networks like Instagram.

Meta confirmed its Meta AI experiments on Instagram, but the company didn't specify whether it was using generative AI technology in search.

A Meta spokesperson said, "Our generative AI-powered experiences are in various stages of development, and we are publicly testing a range of such experiences on a limited scale."

You can find a lot of posts about Instagram search quality. So, it wouldn't be surprising if Meta wants to improve search with generative AI.

Meta also wants Instagram to outperform TikTok in terms of discoverability; last year, Google introduced a new feature called "Perspectives" to show results from Reddit and TikTok. Earlier this week, reverse engineer Alessandro Paluzzi noted on X that Instagram is working on an option called "Visible outside of Instagram," which could show posts as part of search engine results.