Meta introduces WhatsApp AI tool to South African users

  • Meta introduces AI tool on WhatsApp in South Africa, ahead of wider rollout.
  • The tool enables responses to written queries, chat interactions, idea generation, and image creation within WhatsApp.
  • The search bar on the WhatsApp chat page has transformed into an AI tool for generating responses and suggesting questions.
  • Rollout was initiated in September to limited users globally, with a recent expansion to South Africa.
  • Initial user reports cite minor issues like the inability to archive chats and search contacts via the AI search bar.
  • The full rollout timeline is undisclosed; the tool is currently available only in English.
  • Meta assures user privacy, stating personal messages remain encrypted and inaccessible to AI tool.
  • Users cautioned against sharing sensitive information as data input may enhance the tool’s functionality.
  • Meta’s AI tool joins the growing landscape of language-model AI solutions; local startups like LelapaAI are also innovating in this space.

Main AI News:

Meta has initiated the deployment of its groundbreaking WhatsApp AI solution to a select user base in South Africa, marking a significant stride towards its broader release. This innovative AI tool, designed by Meta, is poised to revolutionize user interactions by offering seamless responses to inquiries, engaging in conversations, sparking creativity, and even generating images – all within the WhatsApp platform.

The conventional search bar situated atop the WhatsApp chat interface undergoes a transformative shift, morphing into an AI-powered tool capable of furnishing prompt responses to queries. Moreover, it furnishes users with an array of suggested questions, enhancing user engagement and interaction. Upon engagement, users are seamlessly transitioned into a chat interface with the MetaAI tool, mimicking a conventional chat experience, albeit with responses generated by the tool itself.

The rollout commenced in September of the preceding year, initially targeting a limited user cohort across various countries. Recent developments have seen the gradual introduction of the tool to users within South Africa, albeit not without minor setbacks. Users have reported initial challenges, including the inability to archive chats and search for contacts via the AI-enabled search bar.

While the deployment is ongoing, access to the tool remains exclusive, with the full rollout timeline yet to be disclosed. Notably, the tool is presently accessible solely in English, as indicated by a WhatsApp FAQ resource. Reassuringly, Meta has underscored its commitment to user privacy, affirming that personal messages exchanged amongst friends and family remain confidential and inaccessible to the AI tool.

However, users are advised to exercise discretion in their interactions, as data inputted directly into the AI tool may be utilized to enhance its functionality. Consequently, WhatsApp cautions against divulging sensitive information to the tool, emphasizing the importance of prudent communication practices.

Meta’s AI endeavor joins a burgeoning landscape of large-language-model AI solutions introduced in 2022. Notable contenders include OpenAI’s ChatGPT, Google’s Gemini, and Elon Musk’s Grok tool, all of which are actively shaping the trajectory of AI-enabled interactions. Furthermore, on a local front, South African startup LelapaAI is pioneering AI language tools tailored to African languages such as isiZulu and Sesotho, catering to diverse linguistic preferences within the region.


The introduction of Meta’s WhatsApp AI tool in South Africa signals a significant advancement in user interaction capabilities within the messaging platform. While offering promising features such as dynamic responses and image generation, challenges such as initial functionality issues and limited language support persist. However, the broader implications suggest a growing trend towards AI-driven interactions, with potential market opportunities emerging for businesses to leverage such technologies for enhanced customer engagement and service delivery.