The Evolution of AI on Social Media
May 2024

By Cait McNamara

AI has been a huge topic of discussion in recent years. From curating your feed to recognising your friend’s faces in photos, AI has transformed social media in ways you may not have even realised. Buckle up and join us as we take a stroll down AI memory lane. 


2006 – 2010: The Dawn of the Curated News Feed 

We may think of Facebook as boomer-central these days, but back in 2006 it was at the cutting edge of social media tech. Facebook’s AI-powered algorithm was the first of its kind and could cherry pick the best content to serve in your news feed based on your tastes. This may be commonplace today, but this was the first time that users were being served content based on their preferences rather than just their friend’s most recent posts.  

By 2008, Facebook had also figured out that AI could play matchmaker with friend recommendations and basic ad targeting. Facebook was learning, and the AI game was heating up. 


Early 2010s: AI Goes Mainstream 

The beginning of a new decade marked the dawn of a new age on social.  

Facebook’s facial recognition tech for photo tagging landed and so did the era of tagging your friends in the most unflattering photos after a night out (we do not miss that time). Twitter also jumped on the AI algorithm bandwagon and, by 2015, the acquisition of Instagram by Facebook meant that all social media platforms were now powered by AI. Even LinkedIn got an AI makeover. 

Remember those Snapchat filters that everyone and their dog was obsessed with? (No really, some people did use them on their dogs). You may not know butthese facial filters and lenses were also powered by AI and AR technology. Oh, to go back to the summer of 2016.  


Late 2010s: AI Gets Smarter 

The late 2010’s saw the introduction of the first virtual assistant on social media. Facebook launched M, which could suggest actions and automate tasks in Messenger. It may not have lasted very long, but it was a peek into the future of chatbots that we now know. 

The launch of TikTok in 2017 saw the most highly advanced AI-powered algorithm to date. We all know how long it can keep us scrolling and scrolling, and scrolling… 


2020-Present: The Era of AI 

Since 2020, AI in social media has only gotten more advanced and we don’t see it slowing down any time soon. Just this year we’ve had the introduction of AI chatbots across all Meta platforms and X. AI has become so mainstream that it’s even become difficult to distinguish AI-generated content from reality, shout out to Katy Perry’s viral Met Gala look.  


This month, Meta and TikTok have both implemented disclosure requirements on content made by AI to make it clear what content is AI-generated, and which is not. Stay tuned to see what AI has in store for us next.  

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