Instagram’s 'AI friends' sound like a parasocial nightmare

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(Image credit: Anadolu Agency via Getty Images)

It seems that Instagram could soon be hopping on the AI chatbot bandwagon after a mobile developer found evidence of a new feature in the works. Users will be able to curate an "AI friend" with a number of customisable traits, and the chatbots will be able to answer queries, brainstorm ideas, and chat about whatever else people speak to their AI robo-friends about.

After Meta recently launched an eerie collection of celebrity AI chatbots, it seemed only natural that the invasion would soon spread to Instagram – but at least these ones aren't pretending to be Snoop Dogg. Now my only question is, who are these dystopian chatbots actually for? (For a more constructive use of AI tech, take a look at our collection of the best AI productivity tools). 

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Alessandro Paluzzi is known for finding early versions of upcoming updates by reverse engineering apps, and his latest discovery certainly piqued the interest of his followers. Taking to X, Paluzzi shared that Instagram is "working on the ability to create an #AI friend," with customisable features like age, gender, ethnicity, interests and personality type, in order to create your perfect match. 

To curate your AI pal, the screenshots reveal that you can select two of the listed "personalities," which will "inform the tone of your custom AI's speech." A diverse selection of interests will also add to the AI's personality, and while some categories like "astrology" and "DIY" seem fairly innocuous, I'm not sure I want to be taking "Career" or "Relationships" advice from a robot. 

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Once you've tailored your AI friend to your liking, you can select a name and avatar and plunge right into some deep philosophical conversations. According to Instagram, the chatbots will be able to “answer questions, talk through any challenges, brainstorm ideas and much more” – this definitely isn't going to get dangerously parasocial is it?

AI chatbots are nothing new since the launch of Snapchat's My AI earlier this year saw users initially disturbed, then besotted and eventually bored with the chatbot feature. Despite the release of Meta's weird celeb AI chatbots last month, I can't see them being more than just a fleeting fad – surely it's just easier to Google your qualms?  

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Natalie Fear
Staff Writer

Natalie is Creative Bloq's staff writer. With an eye for trending topics and a passion for internet culture, she brings you the latest in art and design news. A recent English Literature graduate, Natalie enjoys covering the lighter side of the news and brings a fresh and fun take to her articles. Outside of work (if she’s not glued to her phone), she loves all things music and enjoys singing sweet folky tunes.