As of December 16th, 2020, Facebook will restrict the use of Facebook Messenger because of privacy rules of the European Union.
These changes have a huge effect on the way how you can use Facebook Messenger with chatbots.
In this guide, I will tell you why it is changing, who is affected, what is changing and how you can comply with these new changes.
Let’s dive in!
Update 3rd February 2021: Facebook has updated the changes. Now, Ref Links, Buttons and Galleries are working again (weren’t working before)!
Update 13th April 2021, Facebook has recovered some of the changes. Now you can:
- Send and receive media (audio, video and attachments)
- Use the persistent menu
- Add a Send to Messenger button or Checkbox plugin to your website
- Attach a ref value to a Ref link
- Use Ref Link and send ref parameters with it
- Use the Product template
Update 31 August 2021, Facebook has recovered all changes, except for one: Profile in live chat. This is expected to be recovered in Q4 of 2021.
Also, from now on the changes also apply to Japan.
Table of Contents
Why is Facebook Messenger changing?
Starting on December 16th, 2020, Facebook Messenger is changing because of new privacy rules of the European Union.
Facebook also provided their own documentation about these changes, but these are a bit technical.
What must be said is that these changes, can also change (Whut?)
Yeah, let me explain that. In the last couple of days, Facebook already changed their own changes, so it could be the case that by the time you are reading this, some features of Facebook Messenger are already available again. To stay 100% up-to-date about the latest changes, I recommend checking out the changelog of Facebook here.
That being said, Facebook has said to not expect any changes before January 2021.
Who is affected because of these Facebook Messenger changes?
The changes come into effect to the following audience:
- Facebook pages that are located in Europe + Japan
- Facebook pages with admins located in Europe + Japan
- Any chats with people in Europe + Japan
But what is Europe? Europe is:
- All 27 European Union member states
- United Kingdom
So, now we know who is affected, let’s see what is changing and what we can do about it.
But before we go in, I must say that these changes are harsh and deeply affecting how you can use chatbots on Facebook Messenger. I even doubt how all these changes are related to privacy issues.
Nevertheless, we have no choice other than to comply with these new rules.
What will change?
So, what will actually change because of these new privacy rules?
Let’s check all of the changes one by one:
No typing indicator
Often chatbots use a delay function, that will show a typing indicator for a certain number of seconds:
That typing indicator will not show up anymore. So this is not a big change, but something worth noting.
No profile in Live Chat
When your chatbot switches from chatbot to live chat, it was possible to show the profile picture and name of the live chat agent handling your conversation:
Unfortunately, you cannot show this anymore. So messages handled by live chat agents will show just the same as messages that come from your chatbot.
You cannot use the One-Time Notification
Ough, this is a big one.
This year, Facebook introduced the One-Time Notification as a way to reach users outside the 24-hour window. But, because of these new changes, it is not possible to use the One-Time Notification in Europe.
No PSIDs Matching
PSIDs are the unique identifiers of Facebook profiles. And you could use them to easily switch from one chatbot builder to another one.
But because of the new changes, we cannot match these PSIDs anymore. Therefore, if you change from one chatbot builder to the other, you cannot take all the users with you.
No Templates (Receipt template, Airline template)
Facebook offered templates to offer a richer conversation experience than standard messaging, such as a Receipt template, Media template and Airline templates.
For example, here is an airline template that airlines could use to show boarding passes:
Or the Receipt template (for order confirmations):
These kinds of templates will not show up anymore, because of the new changes.
How can you comply with these new FB Messenger changes?
So, how can we comply with these new changes to Facebook Messenger?
This is what you need to do:
- Remove any Facebook Page admins based in Europe, if possible
- Tell users in live chat who you are
- Remove typing indicators in your chatbot flows
- Ask for email or phone number instead of the One-Time Notification
- Check if the user is affected by these new EU rules
Remove any Facebook Page admins based in Europe, if possible
If you have admins of your Facebook Page who are located in Europe, remove them from your Facebook Page.
This, of course, will only be possible if you also have admins that are located in other parts of the world.
By the way, this will only work if your Facebook Page isn’t based in Europe and doesn’t have any chats with people in Europe.
So, how do you remove these Facebook Page Admins?
Just go to your Facebook Page settings and click on Page Roles.
Then, Edit the person based in Europe and click on “Remove”:
Tell users in live chat who you are
Because users cannot see the name and profile picture of the live chat agent anymore, you need to tell users who you are. For example, if you are a coffee cafe you could say “Hey [first-name]! I’m Mary from the Cappucino Café, how can I help you today?”:
Remove typing indicators in your chatbot flows
Because we cannot use typing indicators (delay), you need to go through all of your chatbot flows and remove them one-by-one.
Yes, it’s harsh, but it is the only way to stay compliant.
Ask for email or phone number instead of the One-Time Notification
You cannot use the One-Time Notification anymore, which was a great way to reach out to users outside the 24-hour window.
So a good alternative to reach users outside the 24-hour window is to use multiple channels (also called omnichannel marketing).
Therefore, you must ask for the email or phone number of the user, so you can send them emails or text messages (through SMS or WhatsApp).
Check if the user is affected by these new EU rules
If you don’t have any page admins located in Europe, but you do have chatbot users that are located in Europe, you can condition on whether they are affected by these new rules.
And based on whether they are affected by these rules, you can send them different messages:
Note: This will only work if your Facebook Page isn’t located in Europe and you don’t have any Facebook Page Admins that are located in Europe.
When will these changes go away?
Facebook already has recovered parts of the features and is currently working hard to make Facebook Messenger compliant with the new privacy rules, so that we can use all features.
Also, they released a schedule for when they will fix the rest of the “lost features”. These are the features that are planned to be solved in the second quarter of 2021:
- PSID’s matching
- Receipt Template
- One-Time Notification
- Profile in Live Chat
- Typing indicators
Now It’s Your Turn
Well, those were all the changes and how you can adjust to them.
Now I’d like to hear what you have to say:
What do you think of these changes?
And did you use other ways to solve these?
Let me know in the comments section below.