Facebook is opening up its Messenger platform to business chatbots as it looks to revolutionise how people communicate with companies.
CEO Mark Zuckerberg announced at Facebook’s annual F8 developer conference in San Francisco that companies will be given the tools to offer customer support, guidance and content to users through AI.
“You’re going to be able to build your bot for Messenger starting this afternoon,” Facebook Messenger chief David Marcus said.
“Today could be the beginning of a new era.”
Messenger was launched at last year’s F8 conference to pave the way for these automated conversations, which could prove highly lucrative for the social media giant.
Facebook has cautiously allowed certain companies – such as Uber and Lyft – to build inside the app in the last year, but the floodgates could now open.
It will allow firms to buy News Feed ads that will take users directly to their bots and also send out ‘sponsored messages’.
“You’ll never have to call 1-800-Flowers to reach 1-800-Flowers again,” Zuckerberg said on stage.
Users will be able to block businesses they do not wish to communicate with.
Facebook’s ‘bot engine’, powered by Facebook-acquired artificial intelligence start-up Wit.ai, will help developers build the AI for firms.
Messaging is the future of communication, with more than 60 billion messages a day now exchanged through Facebook’s apps WhatsApp and Messenger.
Zuckerberg said that is three times the number of text messages sent per day.