Facebook Have Launched a Chatbot Discovery Tool for Messenger

Of all the overused words in social media jargon, 'discover' is fast becoming the most brutally flogged dead horse of the lot. Snapchat, Twitter, Instagram and Facebook all have their own iterations of it, and now Facebook are adding one to Messenger. I don't know when exactly California was blighted by such a severe thesaurus shortage but somebody should send them an aid shipment before the 1984 comparisons get any worse.

Messenger's version of 'Discover' is at least distinct in its own right - it relates to chatbots, another dead horse which is being pulverised at the moment. While a few bots have been proven as worthwhile, interesting ventures, the lion's share amount to little more than vapid distractions. Despite this, Facebook are resolutely determined to keep pushing them until the outlook improves, and Discover is their latest skirmish.

As the name suggests, it's a tool built into Messenger to help users browse through chatbots and find ones that they might find interesting. Within this section you can search for specific bots, browse categories, and see which bots Facebook are 'featuring'. This addresses one of the biggest issues with chatbots - they have to be sought out.

Before, you'd probably only find out about a chatbot if it was being promoted by a page you followed or a publication posted an article about it, so there was no way of really investigating them to find ones that might suit your interests. That's the gap Discover has been introduced to plug, but more than that, it's there to remind users that chatbots are an integral feature of Messenger, not just a passing gimmick.

Thus far chatbots have largely been, for want of a better word, thick. The promise of interactive conversations with deep learning AI bots was enticing, but there's been little so far to prove that it's any more sophisticated than the chatbots you used to mess around with on MSN when you were twelve.

Now that Facebook have started treating them more like single purpose utilities rather than placeholders for actual people, the outlook is starting to improve. In particular, they're pushing brand interaction, which is why this Discover feature makes so much sense - it removes the need for a Google search when you're looking for an online customer help service. There's certainly more potential beyond that for chatbots, but for now, Discover is a good foundation.

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