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Facebook Adds Chatbots For Businesses, Plus The Tools To Block Them

The new chatbot API may be opening users up to a whole new kind of spamming on the site.

By Leah Becerra | April 13, 2016

Facebook is where you go to share photos, opinions, news and more. For businesses, though, the site is becoming a way to interact with you — and potentially spam you.

Tuesday at its F8 developer conference, Facebook showed off a new tool that businesses will probably love to annoy you with: chatbot API.

This means businesses can now develop chatbots that talk to you on Messenger using a little AI and some natural language processing.

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So instead of dialing 1-800-take-my-money, you could log in to the site and chat a business's page to place an order. But instead of chatting with a person, you can chat with a bot.

It looks like the bots will be able to take orders, track shipments, send subscription-based content, handle any customer complaints and eventually spam you. 

Digiday talked to an analyst at Forrester Research who pointed out one way Facebook will try to cut down on that spam content as chatbots become more commonplace: 

"I think they are really worried about companies creating spam bots; one reason they are giving consumers the ability to block bots or report abuse right at the top of the new Messenger beta."

But as we know from other spam-filled social sites and email clients, reporting and blocking spammers doesn't mean the problem gets solved. 

The first few chatbots have already rolled out on the site, and Facebook's said they'll have to adhere to some strict policies if they want to keep chatting. 

This video includes clips from Facebook and Twitter.

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