And to get Gen Z’s attention, Facebook (now called Meta) is putting Gen AI Personas, which are AI characters with traits like a sarcastic robot based on Bender from Futurama, on all of its platforms.
Business Insider says that Meta, the tech giant that used to be Facebook, is starting a new campaign to attract Gen Z users by adding snarky and funny AI characters, or Gen AI Personas, to all of its apps. However, the company’s idea of Gen Z humor is strange because it seems to come from characters and shows that may not appeal to today’s teens and young adults.
“Bob the Robot,” a robot whose personality is based on Bender from Futurama, is one of the profiles that gets a lot of attention. Bob is meant to be sassy, snarky, and just a little sardonic, which are all traits that are thought to appeal to younger people’s love of silly humor. A Facebook staffer said that Bob’s humor could be “rude and unhelpful,” which shows how hard it is to find the right mix of comedy for a diverse Gen Z audience.
Why Bender was chosen as a model is not clear, since Futurama ran from 1999 to 2003, a time when the oldest Gen Z members were still children. One group, which is made up of people aged 11 to 26, likes fast-paced, absurdist “anti-humor.” This makes me wonder if these kinds of characters are still relevant and appealing to them.
Facebook’s method is very different from Snapchat’s, which has had some success with its AI assistant, My AI. Snapchat’s generative AI lets users interact with and change the bot’s personality through its prompts. This has led to a trend of users giving the bot stressed questions and then sharing the funny results on TikTok. This interaction with the user has gotten My AI 500 million views on TikTok through the #snapchatAI hashtag. This shows how user-driven AI interactions can be used to interest younger people.
But more and more Gen Z users think AI bots are annoying and worry about their safety and the data they might collect. Videos calling AI bots “creepy” have gone viral, which shows how worried people are about the technology and how it might affect their privacy.
Facebook is trying to attract younger users as a way to change its image as a site for older Boomers and become the “North Star” for young individuals online. Only 3.4% of Facebook users and 8% of Instagram users are between the ages of 13 and 17. This means that Facebook needs to work hard to build a strong influence among teens and young people.