Mark Zuckerberg forces AI chatbot on millions of WhatsApp and Instagram users ...with no way to switch it off

WhatsApp screenshot showing the Meta AI chatbot in use on iOS with the whatsapp logo in the background

Meta is bringing its large language model chatbot to WhatsApp, Instagram, and Messenger users with a variety of new ways to generate AI responses and images

Aaron Brown

By Aaron Brown

Published: 22/04/2024

- 13:18

Updated: 23/04/2024

- 13:27

Meet Meta AI

  • AI chatbot is coming to WhatsApp, Instagram, and Messenger users
  • It will replace the traditional search bar within the iPhone and Android apps
  • Meta AI can answer questions, generate recipes and itineraries
  • It can also be used to dream up new images or animated GIFs
  • Meta AI will also be included in all of your group chats
  • There's currently no way to disable Meta AI in any of these apps

Mark Zuckerberg's Meta will force its Artificial Intelligence (AI) onto billions of users worldwide via its immensely popular WhatsApp, Messenger, and Instagram mobile apps. Known as Meta AI, the chatbot is a direct competitor to OpenAI's ChatGPT, which is built directly into Windows 11.

animated gif of meta AI desktop website answering questions

For the first time, Meta AI will be accessible from a standalone website in any desktop web browser — just like its primary rival, ChatGPT from OpenAI


Meta, previously known as Facebook, said the latest version of its large language model (LLM), which is known as Llama 3, is smarter and faster and now supports “improved reasoning”. LLMs are used to power all generative AI chatbots, including the controversial Google Gemini.

Mark Zuckerberg is so confident in the new model that he's announced plans to integrate the chatbot directly into its most popular services — WhatsApp, Instagram, and Messenger — as well as launch a standalone website, like ChatGPT. Unlike rumoured plans from Google, Meta will not charge for its AI.

animated gif showing everything that meta AI can go when given a natural language prompt

Meta AI is powered by Llama 3, the latest generation of large language model (LLM) from the Californian company, which is run by Facebook co-founder Mark Zuckerberg


The integration varies slightly between apps, but in most cases clicking on the search box within WhatsApp or Instagram will now display an iridescent rainbow circle with a prompt saying, “Ask Meta AI or Search.”

Searching for a specific message, contact, or group will work the same as it always has within WhatsApp, but any prompts or questions will generate a custom response written in plain English generated by Llama 3. In WhatsApp group chats, if you use @Meta AI in a message with a question or prompt, the chatbot will respond directly within the group.

Meta says the AI is only able to read messages with the @Meta AI command.

Unlike Instagram and Messenger, WhatsApp users will also be able to use Llama 3 to generate images from a written prompt — a response to the popular DALL-E text-to-image AI system developed by OpenAI. This can be done from the search bar or in a one-on-one chat with the chatbot, which is now available in your contacts.

WhatsApp users will need to use the word "imagine" at the start of the message to kickstart the image-creation tool. It can be used to dream-up still pictures as well as animated GIFs that you won't find anywhere else.

Meta also confirmed it was expanding the availability of Meta AI to a number of countries outside the US, but it remains unavailable in the UK and Europe. The use of Llama 3 has to be cleared by local authorities, so it's taking some time for the feature to roll out worldwide since there are a mind-boggling number of laws governing the use of AI in each region.

animated gif showing meta ai generating a new image inside a whatsapp chat

Meta AI can dream-up new images and animated GIFs from a written prompt, with audio and video on the roadmap for the technology in the coming months, Meta has teased


Europe and the UK have different laws to the United States, where Meta AI is already deeply integrated into every one of its most popular apps. We'd expect further announcements soon.

When Meta AI does become available in your country and releases within WhatsApp, Instagram, or Messenger, there's no way to switch-off the feature in the settings menu.

“With our most powerful large language model under the hood, Meta AI is better than ever. We’re excited to share our next-generation assistant with even more people and can’t wait to see how it enhances people’s lives,” the tech giant said in a blog post on the launch.

It added that its assistant would also be available within its Ray-Ban Meta smart glasses, and was coming to the Quest virtual reality platform.

The company said it planned to introduce more Llama 3 models in the near future to make the model both multi-lingual and multi-modal – meaning it can take in and respond in not only text and images, but video and audio too.

In a Facebook post on the rollout, Meta founder Mark Zuckerberg said: “We’re releasing the new version of Meta AI, our assistant that you can ask any question across our apps and glasses. Our goal is to build the world’s leading AI.

“We’re upgrading Meta AI with our new state-of-the-art Llama 3 AI model, which we’re open sourcing.


"With this new model, we believe Meta AI is now the most intelligent AI assistant that you can freely use. We’re making Meta AI easier to use by integrating it into the search boxes at the top of WhatsApp, Instagram, Facebook, and Messenger. We also built a website,, for you to use on web.

“We also built some unique creation features, like the ability to animate photos. Meta AI now generates high quality images so fast that it creates and updates them in real-time as you’re typing. It’ll also generate a playback video of your creation process.”

Additional Reporting By Martyn Landi, PA Technology Correspondent

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