Facebook will launch group chatbots at F8

Facebook will reveal at its F8 conference a new class of group bots that work inside Messenger group chats. These group bots can keep users informed about real-time news such as a sports game’s progress, e-commerce deliveries and more, according to three sources familiar with the development of the feature.

Facebook is already working with top chatbot makers to prepare for the launch. Facebook will open up APIs to allow more developers to start building group bots, too. When asked for comment, a Facebook spokesperson said “we don’t comment on rumors or speculation,” but my sources confirm this is coming.

The group bots launch could address two big problems with the Messenger bot platform Facebook launched last year at F8 that TechCrunch previously reported was coming.

First, the group bots will act more like news tickers instead of trying to pretend to be a human discussion partner. They’re not really “chatbots” as much as they are “information bots” as people won’t be having the same back-and-forth conversations as they do with one-on-one chatbots.

Unripened AI technology and poor understanding of questions led many users to be disappointed with Facebook’s chatbots. Facebook’s head of Messenger David Marcus admitted at TechCrunch Disrupt that “The problem was it got really overhyped, very, very quickly. The basic capabilities we provided at the time weren’t good enough to basically replace traditional app interfaces and experiences.”

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