Facebook Launches AI Assistant M

Stateside, Facebook Messenger users can now expect a little help from M, the AI-powered virtual assistant that Facebook has been developing for more than a year.

M will make its presence known to Messenger users by popping right into their active conversations and suggesting what it considers to be relevant content and actions.

Among a small percentage of users, Facebook says it has been testing such suggestions for the past few month and deems it a "great success,” Laurent Landowski and Kemal El Moujahid, both product managers at Facebook, note in a new blog post.

When M recognizes intent in a user’s conversation, it may suggest a relevant sticker to share with friends and family. If it recognizes when people are discussing payments, M might offer gives them the option of sending or requesting money.

If the subject of travel comes up, M might suggest an option to share one’s location during a conversation.

Additional suggestions could include content related to making plans, starting a poll, and even getting a ride using a ride sharing service like Lyft or Uber. The new service could obviously benefit service providers like Uber and other businesses if they can score recommendations from M.

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And, Messenger could user a better business strategy. While the service has seen strong adoption since Facebook siloed the service as a separate app, monetization has been another story.  

“Although Messenger is widely used … consumers have been slow to warm up to the idea of interacting with chat bots and paid advertising in messaging applications,” eMarketer analyst Debra Aho Williamson cautioned earlier this year.

As M is slowly rolling out in Messenger, users around the world will start to see a redesigned way to compose messages, according to Landowski and Moujahid.

“This update offers an easier way to access and discover Messenger features like our rich visual messaging tools and the ability to quickly share content like video and images directly from the text composer with a long press,” they explain.

Messenger is also adding a “More” tab for users to easily access features like Games, Payments, Share Location and Rides.

This year, 39.6% of U.S. Web users will send or receive a message via Facebook Messenger, by eMarketer’s estimate.

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