Facebook’s most notable announcement at its annual F8 conference shows that
the platform is going all in on Messenger.
The company announced its intention to connect more small businesses to
customers through enhanced chatbot features. This will enable consumers to
order goods and services, get answers to easy customer-service questions
Facebook’s vice president of Messenger, David Marcus, told
We’ve created an ecosystem of developers that are now enabling large
companies to do different types of things, whether they want to do brand
stuff or whether they want to plug into their huge call centers with
thousands of people and allow them to answer Messenger messages instead of
The feature called “Smart Replies” will automatically answer common
queries, but requires a human response when questions fall outside of
commonly asked questions. The tool will launch with restaurants in the
United States first, then expand to additional organizations on Facebook,
both in and outside of the U.S.
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Facebook is helping businesses inform their customers about their chatbot
features through a system called Messenger Codes, which are QR-style codes
that organizations can display.
Facebook is also beefing up its digital assistant tool, called “M.”
With M, you text commands and queries instead of speaking them (unlike
Amazon’s Alexa and Apple’s Siri). The tool contains artificial intelligence
that enables it to chime in during conversations with friends to make
suggestions. Facebook is partnering with services like Open Table and
Delivery.com to introduce restaurant and food suggestions.
Though Facebook has been working on new tools to further entice its users
and woo marketing pros, its response to inappropriate content can be
During its conference, the platform a shortcoming related to the
livestreamed murder of a 74-year-old Cleveland man. It took Facebook more
than two hours to take down the video.
"We have a lot of work, and we will keep doing all we can to prevent
tragedies like this from happening," said the company’s co-founder and
chief executive, Mark Zuckerberg. “Our hearts go out to the family and
friends of Robert Godwin Sr.”