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Chatting about movies on Facebook? A bot may drop in to sell you tickets

Chatting about movies on Facebook? A bot may drop in to sell you tickets
[Photo: Flickr user EvelynGiggles]

The machines know you’re pumped to see It and they want to help. Starting today, a new Facebook Messenger chatbot integration with Fandango will detect when the conversation of U.S. users turns toward movies and will offer movie times and the option to buy tickets.

It’s totally convenient! Or completely creepy. According to Variety, here’s how the suggestion bot works:

When a person in a group or one-to-one conversation expresses interest in finding show times, information about movies or buying movie tickets, [Facebook’s “artificial intelligence-based platform”] M will suggest they open the Fandango chat extension.

In the example provided by Fandango, one person says, “It’s mooovie night!! What do you want to see?” Her friend replies, “Let’s go see Thor!” which triggers the M assistant to pull up a prompt below the chat window that says “Buy Tickets for Thor: Ragnarok.”

[Image Fandango]
The feature, which privacy-squeamish users can easily opt out of in Messenger’s settings–is similar to other commerce-by-chatbot innovations like StubHub’s integrations with Skype and Facebook Messenger and Spotify’s efforts to bring listeners to concerts. In July, Facebook added new natural language processing and payments features to its Messenger Platform to enable more of this kind of conversational e-commerce. And Microsoft has been working on refining its chatbots for similar uses after that whole Tay controversy. Of course, apart from selling things, bots and other fake users are also spreading propaganda and misinformation—another topic of concern for Facebook today.JPT