A few hours ago, Facebook announced a series of massive changes to their Messenger APIs impacting Messenger users and pages in the EU, starting on December 16th, to comply with new privacy rules in Europe. You can read Facebook's announcement here: https://developers.facebook.com/docs/messenger-platform/europe-updates.

While we fully support any action that goes to support privacy of internet users, we (and all other chatbot developers) have been surprised by this announcement and especially the very short time given to developers to comply.

This is most definitely a bummer for chatbot developers on this platform that has done so much to popularize chatbots in the past few years.

What will change

This change affects the following:

  • Chats with users in the EU
  • Facebook pages in the EU
  • Facebook pages with admins in the EU

If your chatbot is in one of the situations above, some components will return an error on all or some devices:

  • Persistent menu
  • Video, Audio uploads (not links to video/audio platforms)
  • All rich templates such as Carousel, Card... will not be available at least on web
  • Buttons will not be available on web, and on iOS/Android they will not be able to carry a developer-provided payload (quick_replies are still available)
  • It seems it will not be possible to provide user information in the _metadata object anymore
  • Text, Wait, Typing, Url and QuickReply should still work properly.

Some changes are still a bit vague, and we are waiting for Facebook to clarify some terms.

What we can already tell is that in the future, chatbots targeting EU users and businesses will most likely be almost entirely text-based as almost all rich display features (templates, carousels, buttons...) will be removed by this massive change. Some changes only seem to affect the web version of Messenger, as buttons and templates for instance will still be available on iOS and Android, but there is no reason they will not also be deprecated in a future release of their respective apps.

If you are unsure if your chatbot is affected, contact us on contact@csml.dev.

What to do

If your bot is deployed on Messenger and affected by these changes, sadly, there is not much you can do to retain the full richness of your chatbot. For example, there is no way to know if a user is using your chatbot on the web or in the iOS/Android app and let you adjust your flow accordingly.

You will have a few options however:

  • By December 16th, activate the new "EU privacy compatibility mode" setting in CSML Studio, which will automagically adapt your chatbot for all conversations
  • We will shortly add a new _metadata property that will let you know if the incoming event is a EU user (I will update this post when this is ready). You will be able to use this property to make decisions on what to send to the user depending on their location.
  • If you were using the Messenger Chat Plugin, you may also safely change your bot to our webapp integration (by using the chatbox script to add to your site in place of your existing Messenger script), which retains all the rich features you had before, without any risk of a massive removal by a third-party.
The new EU Privacy Compatibility Mode in CSML Studio for Messenger chatbots

We understand that the situation is far from ideal and want to do our best to help you throughout the process. If you need any help, please reach out to contact@csml.dev or on the CSML Community Slack.

Help, I'm using a chatbot provider that is only available on Messenger

We know that many chatbot developers are using providers that are only compatible with Messenger, and Messenger sadly just lost a lot of the features that made it an exceptional channel for chatbots.

Today, we are launching a support program to help users of popular chatbot platforms and chatbot developers and agencies migrate their chatbot to CSML:

Help, I need to move my chatbot away from Facebook Messenger because of the new EU Privacy rules!
Chatfuel users, Manychat users, chatbot developers, agencies: open-source can save you!
Find out how to migrate your chatbot to CSML

If you are interested in migrating away from your current provider to regain control over your chatbot and data and deploy it to any channel other than Messenger or include it in your own website, feel free to reach out on contact@csml.dev!