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New Facebook Messenger tool could let businesses broadcast mass chat messages

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Marcel De Grijs / 123RF
Businesses could soon use Facebook Messenger to send you automated, mass-delivered messages. First spotted by The Next Web’s Matt Navarra, Facebook recently confirmed that it is privately testing Messenger Broadcast, a platform that would allow businesses to send mass messages — though only to Messenger users that have already initiated a conversation.

Messenger Broadcast — or at least the prototype version of the system currently being tested — allows businesses to craft a welcome message with text, video, or images along with suggested replies. The welcome message can then prompt a Messenger bot-like conversation. Unlike a bot, Messenger Broadcast would allow businesses to send out messages without being asked a question first — though only to users that initiated a conversation with the company in the past.

According to screenshots, businesses can use the tool to reach users for free, though the shared screenshot has an estimate of being seen by a whopping seven users. Facebook doesn’t comment on features that have not yet been released, so it’s unclear if businesses could also boost the feature and pay to reach more users. But, the social media platform did say that their policy of requiring users to initiate contact with a business before allowing a private message will still stand, so users won’t be getting large amounts of spam messages.

As a tested feature, Messenger Broadcast might never roll out to the public, but the company’s prototypes offer a glimpse at what the company is working on that might potentially see a wide release in the future. Messenger Broadcast has only been tested internally at this point, without a public beta test of the tool.

Several of Messenger’s recent expansions enhance the use of bots to access information on the platform, which have now been around for about a year. One tool allows businesses to display all the bot options at the start of the conversation, allowing users to tap on a series of options rather than typing out a message only to be told that the bot doesn’t understand the question. Another update over the summer is designed to help users find helpful chatbots by adding a “Discover” section in Messenger to see companies with chatbot options.

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