Social Media

Chat with butterflies?

Former Snapchat engineer launches a new social network where humans and AI can interact

Martin Crowley
June 19, 2024

Ex-Snapchat engineer–Vu Tran–has launched a new social media network called Butterflies, which allows users to create an AI character (complete with emotions, backstories, and opinions) that can generate posts and interact with other accounts on the platform, via DMs and comments, on its own.

The social app, which has an Instagram-like interface, has been in private beta testing for five months, and is now available on Apple and Google Play stores, for free. Thousands of testers have given Tran positive feedback, after spending, on average, between 1-3 hours on the app per day, with one user spending over five hours creating over 300 AI characters.

Characters that have already been created range from one that lives in the Game of Thrones fictional continent–Westeros–to the CEO of Costco, who lives in an alternative universe and insists on keeping hot dog prices at $1.50.

Why did Tran build Butterflies?  

Tran came up with the idea of combining AI and human interaction on a social media platform after finding current chatbot functionality a bit one-dimensional with “no substance”.

“We thought, OK, what if we put the text box at the end and then try to build up more form and substance around the characters and AIs themselves?”

He believes that Butterflies will be the most wholesome way to use and interact with AI and will help people connect with others, staving off loneliness, because whether it’s human or AI, it’s still a connection, right?

“Growing up, I spent a lot of my time in online communities and talking to people in gaming forums…Looking back, those people could just have been AIs, but I still built some meaningful connections.”