Facebook has a set of policies that govern how businesses can use Messenger. Following them is crucial. If your bot violates important rules, your page could be banned. So to help you understand what’s allowed when building your Messenger chatbot and what isn’t, we’ve put together an overview of Facebook’s Messenger policies. A few notes before we dive in:
- 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 the nuances of Facebook's Messenger policies, or even seek professional legal advice to learn everything you need to know for your particular project.
- 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.
- 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 send them messages.
To avoid spam, Facebook requires that users must consent to start receiving messages from a bot. That’s why, as you may have noticed, there’s always a Get Started button that 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 for users.
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. 👇
Letting users 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, 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 register this as negative feedback, and they mightban your bot or delete your page if it continues to happen.
#2. Don't 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.
#3. Obey timing and content rules for messaging users.
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 users 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 (OTN) 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. ❗Note: Messenger adjusted their policies on December 16, 2020 in response to new EU privacy laws. From that date forward, some bots will not be able to send OTNs. Check our guide to find out if this applies to your chatbot.
- 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 paid message), so you can contact inactive users with promotional content at any time. More on this in the next section.
#4. Send sponsored messages to reengage users.
There’s one more option available if you want to reach users 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.
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.
❗Note: Messenger adjusted their policies on December 16, 2020 in response to new EU privacy laws. From that date forward, some bots will not be able to send sponsored messages. Check our guide to find out if this applies to your chatbot.
#5. Collect and handle personal user data carefully.
- 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.
❗December 2020 update: Messenger adjusted their policies on December 16, 2020 in response to a new set of EU privacy laws. From that date forward, some bots will have restricted functionalities. Check our guide to find out if this applies to your chatbot.
#6. Follow guidelines for contests and promotions.
Remember that if you want to run a contest or other promotion with your Messenger chatbot, Facebook has a separate set of guidelines to govern this process. It states that any promotional posts 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. Don't use engagement bait to grow your bot's audience.
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 your users will appreciate. Facebook’s algorithm will detect and punish pages that try 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 chatbot
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 firstname.lastname@example.org.
If you haven't started building your bot yet, today's the day! Sign up for your free Chatfuel account. Then, when you're ready for unlimited users and priority support, upgrade to Pro. Looking for advice and inspiration from other bot builders? Join our Facebook community.