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.
This is fantastic. Thank you so much for your time and thoughts!
Glad I could help you 🙂
Thanks Joren you are the best !
Thank you 🙂
Hi Joren, any idea if the inpossibility to advertise on Messenger conversations also will be fixed in the coming year? And do you know if it’s doable to dodge these rules by transferring your business / page outside Europe?
Unfortunately, I do not.
Is this why the shared photos in a message chat can no longer be seen when you press on the messenger contact name – view photos and media?
Hey Kris! Nope, that has nothing to do with this…
Hi Joren, you forgot to mention that Buttons in chat don’t work anymore on mobile (which is an issue since most people open Messenger… on mobile). Same for Quick Replies on mobile (tested). So the only way to start a conversation from an ad on mobile is to choose Customer Actions / None in the template section (at the ad creative level) and invite the user to reply with a keyword configured in the “AI” of the bot, which can then display a block and start a flow.
Hey Frederick, great question! Some buttons do not work, but this is only in combination with Facebook ads. Have you tried using Visual JSON? (That would probably fix the problem)
Hey Joren, do you have any updates for the missing features that are nicknames, photos and media shared when you click on contact details, polls? Than you!
Hey ido! No, I currently don’t have any updates about that…
Hello – I found this thread through a google search and has been very helpful, thank you. My children, 6 and 11, use messenger kids. We moved to Belgium from the US, so this was a critical tool for them to communicate with their friends and family (that we approved). As of last week, their profiles no longer work, and when I go to log into messenger kids on my iPhone, it appears in the App Store but then states “app not available yet…isn’t available in your region at this time”.
I’ve found some replacements, but none quite as good. Have you heard about this removal? Any idea when it might be coming back? Thanks!
Hey Brian! To be honest, I do not know the answer to your question. Did you try to contact Facebook?
Where on earth did you come up with your ‘Europe’ definition?
Your article says ‘Europe is: All 27 European Union member states, Norway, Iceland, Liechtenstein, United Kingdom’.
Your list is actually just the EEA + the UK.
Hey Anna! My Europe definition comes from the Facebook documentation about these policies. And you are right, it is the EEA + the UK 🙂
It’s a nightmare for business I can’t see any pictures I rely on fb so much my business would not be were it is today with out fb I can send messages an pictures but can’t see any pictures my clients sent but works sucks this uk law should be are choices I don’t mind what Facebook use my information for it s a 2 way street I have a Brilliant business because of Facebook
Hey David! Could you elaborate a bit on what you can and can’t see? You should be able to see images of people in Messenger…
Optimization Unavailable: The Conversations optimization is not available right now for messaging campaigns in Europe. To fix this, please select a different optimization.
what shud i do to fix this problem? tq
Hey Suzi! I would use the “Traffic” optimization instead of the Conversation optimization.
Is there an automated solution to maybe get a messenger contact to transfer over to SMS or another phone text-based system to carry on the conversation? maybe using Twilio or similar.
Hey Geoff! What you could do is ask for their phone number inside Messenger and ask if it is okay if you send them a text message. Then, you can automatically send them a text message if your chatbot builder is capable of that (here is a chatbot platform comparison that can show you all the chatbot builder with SMS).
Hi, great article!
Any update for Mai 2022?
Hey Walid! What kind of update are you expecting?
Nice article very informative.
I have a question about this step “Check if the user is affected by these new EU rules”
The condition shown in the image how can you do it?
Yes! The condition in the image shows the check if someone is affected or not.
This was really informative. So, Is Instagram Automation fully open now to UK-based accounts as well as NTN notifications for messenger ?
Yes it is fully open and Recurring Notifications also!
Joren, hello and thank you for this article. I have a question, Facebook has not introduced a community chats feature within its groups and I have a group of over 420k that would benefit greatly from such a feature and unfortunately I’m unable to add it the group I currently have and was forced to build a new one and after 6 weeks of working with these features I’ve come to understand all but one issue. It seems that all too often my European members are unable to see these chats what so ever which is frustrating as when I took on this task it was announced as available to everyone and was later walked back.
Could my issue at all be related to this privacy issue, is there still a portion of this interfering with public live operations? If there is, is there a work around, for example placing its virtual location in Europe or removing any admin that would be located there? I understand this may not be that what you are aware as it’s somewhat outside the breadth of your article. But after troubleshooting and researching, I have started leaning heavily towards this as a cause and am desperate to find a solution as even though European members make up less then 10% of my group, I can’t justify the amount of work and advantages of the new group at the expense of even one member.
Hey Mike! Could you tell me more precisely what kind of messages are not received by your European users?
Great post, very few addressing this. We are getting limited on our ads because of this.
My business is US based targeting only the US, however I am located in the EU. So i would be an EU based page admin.
Do we know if this relates to page location and admin only or also settings on the ad account?
Would i still be considered page admin, if i remove myself from full control, give my US partner full control and just give myself partial control?
Thank you, Karsten! Facebook is not entirely clear where it is based on, but I assume that it is both if you are focused on EU customers or when you are an EU admin.
You can definitely test it out to remove yourself and give your US partner full control, I think that it may work. Please let me know the results of your test!