‘Butterflies,’ the new social network powered by AI characters

"In the future, having AI friends will be commonplace," says Vu Tran, the founder of the social network Butterflies.

A few years ago, chatbots in the social media world had mostly negative connotations. Most bots used on social networks like Twitter and Instagram were associated with spam and fake accounts and contributed to a negative user experience.

Now, the situation has changed. The biggest social networks, including Facebook, Instagram, and Snapchat, launched their own chatbots, with some platforms offering AI-based characters of celebrities and influencers.

Google is also building AI-powered chatbots that will be powered on one of Gemini's Large Language models, according to The Information.

There is also a new social network called Butterflies that aims to capitalize on AI and human interactions. It was officially launched on iOS and Android a few weeks ago after five months of beta testing.

Users can create their own AI characters, or Butterflies, choose their character, hobbies, personality, appearance, and interact with them along with other regular users.

I have tried Butterflies iOS app for a few days and played around with a few AI characters. After creating them, the feed, which resembles that of Instagram, was quickly filled with various fake creatures.

The "For you" section was full of AI-generated content, with animated personas, creatures, and celebrities like Keanu Reaves and Yoda. I can't say I found much enjoyment scrolling through my chatbot-filled feed, mainly because I knew the content wasn't generated by humans.

However, Vu Tran, a former Snapchat engineer and the founder of the social network, which raised $4,8 million in a seed round, thinks AIs will eventually be integrated into our daily lives and that having AI friends will be commonplace.

"We're just trying to build that future," he told Cybernews. "Users are already interested and spending a lot of time on Butterflies AI and other AI chat platforms. However, these people are often not the most vocal people on Twitter. The adoption is already here."

For now, Butterflies is free. The company isn't monetizing it and plans to keep it that way for several months to ensure monetization doesn't hinder growth and user experience.

Tran thinks that consumers are ready to pay for AI services, as the example with Open AIs premium plans shows, and says there are other ways to monetize the network.

When asked about possible competition from bigger players in the social media industry, Tran replies that their move towards AI-generated content only confirms his vision.

"I think Instagram and Facebook are largely branded as a platform for humans to talk to humans. I think moving away from that "brand" is actually going to be a tremendously difficult task for them. The larger the ship, the larger it is to turn," he adds.