Facebook has a set of policies that govern how businesses can use Messenger. Following them is crucial, so your bot doesn’t violate any important rules and cause your page to get banned. To help you understand what’s allowed when building your bot and what isn’t, we’ve put together an overview of Facebook’s key Messenger policies.

This guide isn’t meant to be exhaustive. Every business case is unique, so we recommend using this overview as a starting point. You may still need to dig deeper into Facebook policies, or even seek professional legal advice to learn everything you need to know for your particular project. Also note that these are our interpretations of Facebook’s policies. You should refer to their Platform Policy Overview if you have doubts about how any of them apply to your company.

Finally, know that any area of the Facebook chatbot policy is subject to change. We’ll update this article as needed to reflect any of these in the future. That said, here are the core components of Facebook’s current Messenger policies for all bot builders to be aware of!

#1. Get consent from users to receive your bot’s messages, and make opting out easy.

To avoid spam, Facebook requires that users must consent to begin receiving messages from a bot. That’s why, as you may have noticed, there’s always a “Get Started” button the user has to tap or click before interacting with a bot.The good news is that you don’t need to do anything to create this button. The moment you connect your Chatfuel bot to your Facebook page, the button will automatically appear.

You will, however, have to create the option to allow users to easily unsubscribe. There are two ways to do this. First, you can set an AI rule that will create an attribute to exclude the user from future messages. Or, you can create a button or quick reply to achieve the same purpose. Learn more on how to set this up in the video below.

Allowing users to decide if they want to receive messages from your bot and letting them choose if they want to stop shows that you respect their privacy and preferences. It’s a positive, impactful step towards building their trust in your brand. Plus, it’s important to note that your business could suffer the consequences if you don’t provide an easy way to unsubscribe. If a user wants to stop receiving your bot’s content and can’t find a way to do so, they might delete or block its messages. Facebook will receive this as negative feedback, and may ban your bot or delete your page if it continues to happen.

#2. Do not include offensive or objectionable content.

As you’d expect, neither Facebook nor Chatfuel will allow you to deploy a bot that contains offensive or objectionable content. This includes but is not limited to hate speech, violent content, and adult content. Anything that “promotes or facilitates gambling” is prohibited by Facebook too, unless authorized with written permission. By simply creating a bot that shares nothing but helpful, wholesome messaging relevant to your audience, you should be able to comply with this rule easily.

Chatfuel’s Terms of Use and Facebook’s Community Standards have more information on what qualifies as objectionable. If you’re ever in doubt about the acceptability of a piece of content for your bot, it’s best to err on the side of caution and not include it. Your bot should provide a helpful, engaging experience that won’t offend, threaten, or otherwise damage a user’s experience.

#3. Obey timing and content rules for messaging subscribers.

The main purpose of these rules is to protect users from spam. Facebook updated them as of March 4, 2020. The first one to know is that you can only contact bot subscribers with promotional content for free within 24 hours of their last interaction with you. Note that this one-day time limit is refreshed any time a user responds to your business through one of the eligible actions listed in Messenger Conversation Entry Points.

After that standard messaging window closes, these are your options for reaching out to now-inactive users:

  • Use a tag to send non-promotional content, if your use case fits one of Facebook's four tags. 👇
  • Send a one-time notification if the user previously agreed to receive it. This notification is only valid for specific use cases, like price-drop or back-in-stock alerts.
  • Send a subscription message with non-promotional news updates (available only to news organizations that are registered and approved by Facebook).
  • Create a sponsored message (a type of Facebook ad), so you can contact inactive users with promotional content at any time. More on this in the next section.

Here are your options for contacting inactive users outside Facebook's 24-hour contact window.

#4. Send a sponsored message to drive promotional reengagements with customers you already have open conversations with.

There’s one more option available if you want to reach subscribers with a message that doesn’t fit the timing or content rules of Facebook’s tags. With sponsored messaging, you can reengage users from the past who haven’t interacted with your bot recently. The 24-hour rule doesn’t apply to these messages, and you have the freedom to include promotional content, too.

Note that while the tagged messages mentioned earlier are free for your business to send, sponsored messages require payment just like Facebook ads. Check out our blog post Sponsored Messages 101 to learn everything you need to know about creating, sending, and optimizing this ad type.

#5. Collect and handle personal user data carefully.

It’s your responsibility to take appropriate measures to protect any personal user information your bot collects. First, it’s important that your business offer a Facebook chatbot privacy policy to users, which should detail how you collect, utilize, disclose, and store their data. You can view Chatfuel’s Privacy Policy here. While we encourage you to seek professional legal help to craft a Facebook Messenger chatbot privacy policy appropriate for your unique business, a few things it should include are:

  • Details about what data you gather, and for what purpose
  • Information about how the data is stored
  • Instructions on how users can view or delete their data from your system

Another aspect of user privacy you may need to be aware of is GDPR, a piece of legislation passed by the European Union in May of 2018. This policy details how businesses are allowed to gather and process personal information from users who are EU citizens. Therefore, if there’s even a chance your bot may interact with any EU users, know that it must be GDPR compliant. We released a document that explains a bit more about GDPR and what has changed, plus details on what we’ve done to keep our platform compliant.

#6. Follow guidelines for contests and promotions.

Remember that if you want to run a contest or promotion with your bot, Facebook has a separate set of guidelines to govern that process as well. It states that your promotional post must include:

  • “A complete release of Facebook by each entrant or participant; and
  • Acknowledgement that the promotion is in no way sponsored, endorsed, administered by or associated with Facebook.”

A promotion can be a great way to engage your audience; just make sure you follow Facebook’s rules to avoid consequences for your page.

#7. Avoid using engagement bait to gain bot subscribers.

As we’ve mentioned, the idea behind Facebook’s Messenger policies is to promote a positive experience and protect users from spam. This goal is clear in Facebook’s Newsroom release about combating engagement bait, which they define as “spammy posts on Facebook that goad [users] into interacting with likes, shares, comments, and other actions.” This is relevant to Messenger bots because Chatfuel offers the option to acquire new bot users from comments on your Facebook page posts, or from interactions with your Facebook ads.

The key to compliance here is simply to create great content that’s genuinely helpful and engaging, and that will be appreciated by users. Facebook’s algorithm will detect and punish pages attempting to get greater reach with engagement bait, so it’s best to avoid it. Instead, focus on releasing content that builds your brand’s authority, and delights, informs, entertains, or otherwise engages users in an authentic way.

Next steps for building your bot

For detailed information about any Facebook chatbot policy relevant to your business, we suggest studying their documentation more closely or seeking professional legal counsel. If Facebook bans or deletes your bot or page, you will no longer be able to use Chatfuel with that page, so it’s important to comply with all of their official policies. If you have questions or concerns, you can always reach out to team@chatfuel.com.

For tips on all things related to bots, join our active Facebook help community. To get started with Chatfuel, sign up for free, then watch our helpful intro video.