Facebook has a number of policies that govern how businesses can use Messenger. It’s crucial to be aware of and follow their terms, so you can make sure your bot doesn’t violate any important rules and cause your page to get banned. To help you understand what’s allowed when building your bot and what isn’t, we’ve put together an overview of Facebook’s key Messenger policies.
Keep in mind that this guide isn’t meant to be exhaustive. Every business case is unique, so we recommend using this overview as a starting point to get oriented. Know that you may still need to dig deeper into Facebook policies, or even seek professional legal advice to learn everything you need to know for your particular project. Also note that these are our interpretations of Facebook’s policies, and that you should refer to their Platform Policy Overview if you have doubts about how any of them apply to your company.
Finally, know that any area of the Facebook chatbot policy is subject to change. We’ll update this article as needed to reflect any amendments in the future. That said, here are the core components of Facebook’s current Messenger policies for all bot builders to be aware of.
#1. Get consent from users to receive your bot’s messages, and make opting out easy.
To avoid spam, Facebook requires that users must consent to begin receiving messages from a bot. That’s why, as you may have noticed, there’s always a “Get Started” button the user has to tap or click before interacting with a bot.
The good news is that you don’t need to do anything to create this button. The moment you connect your Chatfuel bot to your Facebook page, the button will automatically appear.
You will, however, have to create the option to allow users to easily unsubscribe. There are two ways to do this. First, you can set an AI rule that will create an attribute to exclude the user from future messages. Or, you can create a button or quick reply to achieve the same purpose. Learn more on how to set this up in the video below.
Allowing users to decide if they want to receive messages from your bot and letting them choose if they want to stop shows that you respect their privacy and preferences. It’s a positive, impactful step towards building their trust in your brand. Plus, it’s important to note that your business could suffer the consequences if you don’t provide an easy way to unsubscribe. If a user wants to stop receiving your bot’s content and can’t find a way to do so, they might delete or block its messages. Facebook will receive this as negative feedback, and may ban your bot or delete your page if it continues to happen.
#2. Do not include offensive or objectionable content.
As you’d expect, neither Facebook nor Chatfuel will allow you to deploy a bot that contains offensive or objectionable content. This includes but is not limited to hate speech, violent content, and adult content. Anything that “promotes or facilitates gambling” is prohibited by Facebook too, unless authorized with written permission. By simply creating a bot that shares nothing but helpful, wholesome messaging relevant to your audience, you should be able to comply with this rule easily.
#3. Obey timing and content rules for messaging subscribers.
The main purpose of these rules is to protect users from spam. Basically, you must choose and apply the appropriate tag from Facebook’s list to every message your business sends. Each tag comes with rules for when that type of message can be sent, and what it’s allowed to contain. Properly tagging your messages shows Facebook that you’re sharing content within their parameters.
The first rule to know is that your business can message a user freely within the first 24 hours after an interaction with them. These messages can include promotional content. Note that this one-day time limit is refreshed any time a user responds to your business through one of the eligible actions listed in Messenger Conversation Entry Points.
After that 24-hour window closes, you can only message users if your content fits one one of Facebook’s tags. There were originally 17 on the list. As of March 4, 2020, however, there will only be five tags to choose from. This purpose of this shift is, again, to avoid spam, and to make sure these Messenger conversations provide value for users.
The five tags that will be available from March 4 forward will not allow promotional content. They are:
- CONFIRMED_EVENT_UPDATE. Use this tag to send users confirmations or reminders about events they RSVP’d or bought tickets for.
- POST_PURCHASE_UPDATE. This tag is for transactional messages like order confirmations, receipts, and shipping updates.
- ACCOUNT_UPDATE. Use this tag to notify users of important account changes, like approval status or fraud alerts.
- HUMAN_AGENT (closed beta). This tag allows your staff more time (up to seven days) to personally respond to customer inquiries via Messenger. It’s meant for questions or issues that take more than 24 hours to resolve.
- ONE_TIME_NOTIFICATION. The newest tag on the list, “one-time notification” will be released in February 2020. It’ll allow for messages that users specifically requested, like back-in-stock alerts or price alerts.
Make sure to read Facebook’s more detailed guidelines about what is and isn’t appropriate for each tag. If you’d like to send other types of content to users outside the 24-hour window, you can use a sponsored message—explained in the next section.
#4. Send a sponsored message if you want to drive promotional re-engagements with customers you already have open conversations with.
There’s one more option available if you want to reach subscribers with a message that doesn’t fit the timing or content rules of Facebook’s tags. With sponsored messaging, you can re-engage users from the past who haven’t interacted with your bot recently. The 24-hour rule doesn’t apply to these messages, and you have the freedom to include promotional content, too.
Note that while the tagged messages mentioned earlier are free for your business to send, sponsored messages require payment just like Facebook ads. You can create, pay for, and send these messages through Facebook Ads Manager by following these steps, or watching the video below:
- Create an ad with the Messages objective.
- Choose Sponsored Message as the message destination.
- Then, select the correct Facebook page—the one your bot is linked to.
- The ad will automatically be set to target everyone who has messaged your bot. If you’d like to target only subscribers who haven’t messaged your bot in the last 24 hours, you can create a custom or Lookalike Audience. Watch the video below for more information.
- Next, you’ll see that Facebook automatically selects ad placements for you. There’s no need to adjust these.
- Choose your budgeting and schedule. Note that Facebook currently charges $30 for up to 1,000 users to receive your message. To reach more people, the cost will increase incrementally.
- From there, finish setting up the creative of your ad. You won’t be able to incorporate video, but text and images are allowed.
- Finally, you must link the call-to-action button in your message to a block in Chatfuel, so that users are connected to your bot when they respond. Click Connect to your bot, and type the name of the desired block in the bot payload box under Customer Actions. Use this format: “block name: Example Block.” Click Confirm to finalize.
#5. Collect and handle personal user data carefully.
- Details about what data you gather, and for what purpose
- Information about how the data is stored
- Instructions on how users can view or delete their data from your system
Another aspect of user privacy you may need to be aware of is GDPR, a piece of legislation passed by the European Union in May of 2018. This policy details how businesses are allowed to gather and process personal information from users who are EU citizens. Therefore, if there’s even a chance your bot may interact with any EU users, know that it must be GDPR compliant. We released a document that explains a bit more about GDPR and what has changed, plus details on what we’ve done to keep our platform compliant.
#6. Follow guidelines for contests and promotions.
Remember that if you want to run a contest or promotion with your bot, Facebook has a separate set of guidelines to govern that process as well. It states that your promotional post must include:
- “A complete release of Facebook by each entrant or participant; and
- Acknowledgement that the promotion is in no way sponsored, endorsed, administered by or associated with Facebook.”
A promotion can be a great way to engage your audience; just make sure you follow Facebook’s rules to avoid consequences for your page.
#7. Avoid using engagement bait to gain bot subscribers.
As we’ve mentioned, the idea behind Facebook’s Messenger policies is to promote a positive experience and protect users from spam. This goal is clear in Facebook’s Newsroom release about combating engagement bait, which they define as “spammy posts on Facebook that goad [users] into interacting with likes, shares, comments, and other actions.” This is relevant to Messenger bots because Chatfuel offers the option to acquire new bot users from comments on your Facebook page posts, or from interactions with your ads.
The key to compliance here is simply to create great content that’s genuinely helpful and engaging, and that will be appreciated by users. Facebook’s algorithm will detect and punish pages attempting to get greater reach with engagement bait, so it’s best to avoid it. Instead, focus on releasing content that builds your brand’s authority, and delights, informs, entertains, or otherwise engages users in an authentic way.
Next steps for building your bot
For detailed information about any Facebook chatbot policy relevant to your business, we suggest studying their documentation more closely or seeking professional legal counsel. If Facebook bans or deletes your bot or page, you will no longer be able to use Chatfuel with that page, so it’s important to comply with all of their official policies. If you have questions or concerns, you can always reach out to email@example.com.