Facebook has confirmed that it is shutting down its M virtual assistant. The social network originally launched the virtual assistant back in August of 2015 and was made available through a bot on Facebook's Messenger platform. Despite initial impressions that it would eventually be rolled out worldwide, this never happened, and the assistant remained limited to roughly 2,000 users that lived in California.
The virtual assistant offered a number of fully automated features, but, unlike the Amazon Echo and Google Assistant, Facebook M used text in order to interact with users. Interestingly, though, M relied heavily on human input, with many of the more difficult tasks being responded to by people working behind the scenes on the assistant. Facebook initially hoped that this manual input would help train the assistant to rely less on humans, but it appears this never progressed. The social media giant has stated that the project was initially launched in order to learn the needs of people, as well as what they expected to see from a virtual assistant. Despite its limited availability, the company is pleased with its performance over the past 2 years and a half and has confirmed that it will use all of the gathered data in order to improve other AI-powered Facebook products. M will officially cease to exist on January 19, but parts of the product will continue to be available inside of Messenger. The new product, known as M Suggestions, will offer automated suggestions to users regarding payments, plans or even stickers that can be sent through the messaging platform. In terms of the people that actually worked on M, the social media giant has confirmed that they will be offered other positions within Facebook.
For now, it appears Facebook's focus is elsewhere, with the company reportedly signing a new agreement with Sony Music that will allow users to legally upload videos with music, therefore putting an end to any copyright requests that force the social network to take down the content. The move should also pave the way for future agreements with the likes of Universal Music and Warner Music, something that will give Facebook's users much more freedom when it comes to personalized content.