Surprise Meta AI rollout hits South Africa

  • Meta has rolled out its generative AI chatbot across Facebook, Instagram and WhatsApp in South Africa.
  • The company says the chatbot uses Llama 3, its most powerful model yet, which can produce human-like responses and generate images, for free.
  • The chatbot, however, does collect data from users, so be careful what you ask it.

Facebook, Instagram and WhatsApp owner Meta has started rolling out its chatbot across South African apps, with the AI, using the Llama 3 model, now available on Facebook, WhatsApp and Instagram for local users.

The launch gives Meta an existing vast userbase in which it can test its chatbot, providing an advantage over the likes of OpenAI and Google.

Previously, the chatbot was found on beta versions of WhatsApp and was rolling out in India and other countries. Like ChatGPT, the chatbot can give answers to questions and produce human-like conversation, and can even be used to generate images which is usually a price-locked feature for other generative AI offered by companies.

South Africans on iOS and Android can now use the chatbot in Meta mobile apps and on desktop. The AI is also being rolled out now in Australia, Canada, Ghana, Jamaica, Malawi, New Zealand, Nigeria, Pakistan, Singapore, Uganda, Zambia and Zimbabwe

According to a blogpost from Meta, the Llama 3 model that the chatbot uses is its most advanced model yet, trained on 14 terabytes of data.

For goodness sake, just generate the man wearing grills.

“Planning a night out with friends? Ask Meta AI to recommend a restaurant with sunset views and vegan options. Organizing a weekend getaway? Ask Meta AI to find concerts for Saturday night. Cramming for a test? Ask Meta AI to explain how hereditary traits work. Moving into your first apartment? Ask Meta AI to “imagine” the aesthetic you’re going for and it will generate some inspiration photos for your furniture shopping,” explains the company of the capabilities of the chatbot.

The chatbot has a powerful and free image generator and it can also animate the images, which sets it apart from competitors like Microsoft Copilot and ChatGPT. The image generator also has the same restrictions as other popular chatbots in that you cannot generate images using real people, including celebrities or political figures, but characters like Shrek are fine.

An important note on Meta AI for users in South Africa, however, is that while it is free to use, the company indicates with a once-issued warning that the chatbot will collect data from users for its training. This is Meta’s calling card, unfortunately, as the company collects data across most of its platforms to sell to advertisers.

The company has also launched a designated website for the use of Meta AI.


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