Facebook Promises Messenger Bots At F8 Conference, Raises Privacy Concerns

messenger_icon_2At its annual F8 developer conference this week, Facebook unveiled plans to introduce chat bots onto its Messenger platform — including bots representing many popular brands.

There are already bots on Facebook, but the news this week means that anyone can now make a Messenger bot powered by Facebook’s Bot Engine. This kind of “conversational commerce” may be the future, but it also raises some uncomfortable concerns for users who may not wish to interact with a company masquerading as an individual. In addition, this kind of simple-one click buying tool could allow hackers to rack up huge purchases easily on someone else’s dime.

The BBC spoke with Facebook’s head of messaging David Marcus about the issue of hacking, and his response wasn’t exactly reassuring.

“The reality is when you think about the number of people who are on the Facebook platform, and how well protected their account is compared to general practice around the world, we feel good that we have best-in-class protections that will protect those accounts better than most companies at a smaller scale can,” Marcus said. “We’ll continue to build better and better systems.”

In other words: Facebook has pretty good security as it is, so don’t worry about it. Marcus also encouraged users to sign up for two-factor authentication to secure their profiles.

Time will tell if these bots are a security problem, but for now, the site should expect some skeptical users upon its rollout.