Facebook M is gonna sit on your digital shoulder, whispering advice and suggestions as you stare into your screens chatting with friends on Messenger.
Facebook announced April 6 it is rolling out to chat app Messenger users a relatively tame version of its artificial intelligence (AI) experiment, M, to make the app more “useful, seamless and delightful.”
Or…it could make it more annoying, distracting and vexing.
Facebook announced M in 2015 and has been quietly working to improve its part-human, part-AI functionality.
Facebook says M in your Messenger – available only to U.S. users for now – will insert suggestions into your Messenger dialogue “by popping into an open conversation to suggest relevant content and capabilities to enrich the way people communicate and get things done:
“Suggestions from M appear when it recognizes intent in a conversation and initially will include the following actions:
- Sending stickers: M shares fun sticker suggestions for your daily life interactions like ‘Thank you’ or ‘Bye-bye.’
- Paying or requesting money: M recognizes when people are discussing payments and gives them the option of easily sending or requesting money.
- Sharing your location: M can suggest an option to share your location during a conversation.
- Making plans: If people are talking about getting together, M helps coordinating a plan.
- Starting a poll (in group conversations only): Have a hard time making decisions in a group? M lets you set a poll topic and vote in group conversations.
- Getting a Ride: Talking about going somewhere? M suggests “Get A Ride” and shares an option of Lyft or Uber.”
We’re not making this up.
“To experience M, simply chat with a friend or a group as you normally would,” explains Facebook. “M may make a suggestion in a conversation relevant to one of the core actions listed above, and then the M logo and suggestion will appear — it’s that simple. And M learns: the more you use it, the more it can help.”
FB promises M can be disabled in the Messenger app if it becomes too annoying. But it doesn’t say M will tell you how to do that.
Facebook upgrades tools to battle fake news
Just as it promised it would back in December, Facebook is starting to implement some tools to help Facebook users separate credible news from fake news.
“As part of our ongoing efforts, we’ve worked in consultation with First Draft, a non-profit dedicated to improving skills and standards in the reporting and sharing of information online, to roll out an educational tool to help people spot false news,” says the social network behemoth. “We’re featuring this tool at the top of News Feed for a few days to people on Facebook in 14 countries.”
Focusing on three key indicators, Facebook says it will:
- disrupting economic incentives because most false news is financially motivated;
- building new products to curb the spread of false news; and
- helping people make more informed decisions when they encounter false news.
“When people click on this educational tool at the top of their News Feed, they will see more information and resources in the Facebook Help Center, including tips on how to spot false news, such as checking the URL of the site, investigating the source and looking for other reports on the topic,” Facebook says.
“False news runs counter to our mission to connect people with the stories they find meaningful. We will continue working on this and we know we have more work to do.”