Marketing

Messenger bot makers reveal ‘pause’ in new bot launches


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Want to launch a new Facebook Messenger bot in the next few weeks? Good luck with that.

As part of the fallout from the ongoing Cambridge Analytica revelations, the social network has “paused” app reviews while it implements changes to its platform. It has now emerged that this also applies to the approval of all new bots launched for its Messenger app.

Startup Botsify alerted its customers to the news yesterday. “Basically, all the pages and chatbots that are connected to Botsify will be working fine, but you cannot connect new pages until Facebook updates their policies or resume the app-review process,” it explained in an email. “We expect this process should not take more than 1-2 weeks.”

Syd Lawrence, founder of The Bot Platform, confirmed this when contacted by Music Ally. “Facebook have turned off the app-review process in general, and they have also asked people like us to stop any new bot creation as well, which we have done. Right now, you can’t hook up a new bot to a Facebook page, although any bots that have already launched are still running,” he said.

Messenger bots are actually one of the least data-scraping features of Facebook’s overall platform, with Lawrence highlighting the fact that the Cambridge Analytics stories focus on data harvested on people’s friends through a Facebook app launched before 2014, when Facebook toughened up its data policies.

“We believe that it all stems from that friends’ data access. But with Messenger we don’t have access to anything like that anyway. All we get is the name, gender and timezone of the person signing up to the bot. We don’t even get location or page likes, let alone anything on your friends. But because it’s all bubbled down from the app-review process being paused, it’s had the effect of a blanket pause across everything,” he said.

Bots have been an increasingly popular marketing tactic for music labels and artists, thanks to high read-rates for their messages, and a decent return-on-investment when these bots are used to promote merchandise, tickets and music.

Botsify and The Bot Platform are both confident that bot approvals will resume in the not-too-distant future, but it’s a headache for any labels and artists who had bots going live in late March and April to tie in with a particular marketing campaign.

Stuart Dredge

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