Careful which chatbot you talk to, unless you want their ads on Facebook Messenger

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Facebook has begun allowing businesses to send users adverts on Messenger, but only if those users have previously made contact with the brand.

Part of Facebook’s iteration of its Messenger chat service as a platform, announced at Web Summit in Lisbon, the change will mean that if a user ever contacts a brand that will open the door to that brand then sending them adverts through the instant messaging app.

“Sponsored messages” as Facebook calls them provides another revenue opportunity for Facebook, targeting users in a place where they are less likely to automatically screen out adverts.

David Marcus, Facebook’s vice president of messaging, said: “Of course, people using Messenger shouldn’t worry about getting spammed, because the starting principles still remain: businesses can’t send a sponsored message to threads that weren’t previously opened by their customers or prospects, and users have full control to block messages or people/businesses they no longer want to hear from.”

However, users wanting to avoid ads will have to be careful which brands, chatbots and other interfaces within Messenger they use. If a user messages a chatbot it gives that brand carte blanche to then send the user adverts. If it operates in the same way as some of the chatbots, which are difficult to actually stop from spamming you beyond an all-out block preventing any interaction, the new sponsored messages could be extremely irritating.

Whether a user will be block ads from being sent but still interact with the brand or chatbot remains to be seen. Either way, Facebook chatbot interactions just got that little bit less appealing.

Powered by Guardian.co.ukThis article was written by Samuel Gibbs, for theguardian.com on Wednesday 9th November 2016 10.17 Europe/London

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