Facebook has recently changed their Messenger Policy, allowing chat bots to send users various forms of promotional and subscription-based messages. Although Facebook’s Product Manager Seth Rosenberg has stated there would be limits in regards to the messages that are sent out, the presence of this new permission so to speak makes it possible for users to engage with brands in a new way, allowing the brand’s chat bot to propose an upsell on a product or alert them to upcoming promotions. The Whole Foods Messenger chat bot for example, would be able to send a promotional message to a user on an upcoming price discount for a particular item to be sold in the store in the upcoming week.
If you’re a current user of Messenger and are cringing at the idea of subscription and promotional messages running rampant throughout your Messenger inbox, the silver lining to having these allowed resides in the limitations that Rosenberg mentioned. According to the blog post on the new policy changes, the user must initiate the conversation before these promotional messages can be sent out, and the user has complete control and may stop or block any forthcoming message if they so choose. Even if users do opt in to begin with, they can still change their minds at any time. What this essentially means is that users won’t start receiving random promotional messages from a chat bot that they have never spoken with before.
The new policy also states that there is now a time limit on how long developers and businesses have to respond to a user through the Send/Receive API. If a user initiates a message to a chatbot that uses this API, the business for that particular chat bot will need to respond within 24 hours, or be limited to sending one message to the user. However, if the user then responds to that single message, the time limit is reset and the chat bot will have another 24 hours where multiple messages can be sent through. The time limit is only being imposed on promotional messages, whereas subscription message are not restricted in this way. They are prohibited from promoting something or soliciting to users, though. Under the new policy, anyone who is already using the Send/Receive API will have to make the necessary changes outlined in the standard messaging rules within three months time. These same developers and businesses will have a slightly longer six months to submit their subscription experiences for approval.