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Messenger API Updates for Europe and Guides to BotStar Users

As of December 16th, 2020, Facebook will place restrictions on its usage of the Messenger API, following its continued effort to comply with the European Union privacy laws. The changes ultimately mean changes to your ability to use BotStar on Messenger.

With the new rule, you need to adjust your Messenger chatbot to make sure it functions correctly. This was the case for March 4th Facebook Messenger update and the newest change as well.
Here’s what’s happening.

Firstly, why is Facebook making these changes?

Facebook updates new rules in an attempt to comply with the new privacy laws in Europe.

When will it happen?

The change is expected to come into effect from December 16th, 2020. For more details, please refer to Facebook’s instruction here.

Who’s affected?

These Facebook Messenger policy changes will affect your Messenger chatbot if one or more of the following are true:

  • The Facebook page connected to your bot is based in Europe*
  • Admin of the Facebook page connected to your bot is based in Europe*
  • Your Facebook Messenger bot interacts or will interact with any users based in Europe*

*Europe here includes 30 European Economic Area (EEA) countries: the 27 countries in the European Union (EU), plus Norway, Iceland, Liechtenstein, and the United Kingdom.

Then, what’s changing?

Facebook has announced the updates on their documentation covering technical limitations. Some changes in the document may be too technical for you, so we hope our explanations will help you understand what they mean to you and your BotStar chatbot.
Starting from December 16, 2020, several Messenger APIs will be unavailable for developers and businesses in Europe, and for people in Europe who connect with businesses globally. That means, if the Facebook page your bot is connected to—or any of the page’s admins—are based in impacted European countries, the following BotStar features won’t be available in Messenger for any of your users. If your page and admins are not based in any of the impacted European countries but some or some of your users are, the following features listed below won’t be available for those users specifically.

1. Features that are no longer available:

  • Audio and video: You won’t be able to send audio or video attachments. Images can still work normally.
  • Persistent menu: Users won’t be able to access the persistent menu within Messenger.
  • One-Time Notification (OTN): One-time notifications (OTNs) will not function at all. On December 16th, you won’t be able to ask users opt-in for OTNs nor deliver the OTN message. Both new OTNs that you’ll send after December 16th and even OTNs that you had collected prior to the 16th are applied.
  • User profile information: You won’t be able to see, view, or manipulate user information including Their first and last name, profile picture, location, timezone, and gender
  • Custom Audience from Messenger: You won’t be able to create Custom Audiences in Ads Manager of your subscribers.
  • Live Chat agent information (who you are speaking to in Live Chat): Subscribers won’t be able to view a Live Agent’s profile details (name and picture) in Live Chat. They will still be able to see the business profile and name during regular automation and conversations unless a Live Agent takes over and the Live Agent has set up a Persona in BotStar.
  • Web Plugins: Web Plugins will not render. They will not appear on your website and will not function properly.
  • Media Attachments (except images): You will not be able to send nor receive media attachments (audio, media, and files) apart from images. Customers are able to send media attachments but will receive an error message showing that the business may not have received the attachment.
  • Typing Indicators: Your chat users won’t be able to see that you’re typing.

2.  There are some BotStar features that work with some limitations:

  • Buttons: BotStar allows you to add buttons to your messages. These buttons are used to trigger actions. Since Dec 16, 2020, these buttons will only be supported on mobile devices.
  • Galleries: Galleries won’t be shown up anymore, except on mobile devices.
  • Growth Tools automation: All of BotStar Messenger related Growth Tools, like Referral URLs, overlay widgets, Page Takeover won’t work normally, except the Comments Growth tool.

3. While there are some restrictions on Messenger features, below are several that still works normally without any limitations:

  • Quick Replies
  • Message tags (Content-type)
  • Conversation starters
  • Keyword triggers
  • Handover protocol
  • Welcome message

Next Step Recommendations

So, after knowing the new changes, if you belong to one of the three categories in the “Who’s affected” part listed above, you may consider switching to website chatbots. BotStar widget allows you to have an independent chatbot so that you aren’t totally affected by the new changes.
Or you may consider these following solutions:

  • Go Omni-channel. Ask users for their emails and phone number instead of OTN messages. This way, you can keep in touch with your customers outside Facebook Messenger.
  • If you, as an admin of the Facebook page connected to BotStar chatbot, are from Europe, consider demoting to a lower-tier, if possible, before Dec 16, 2020.
  • Ask users’ name at the beginning of the chat.
  • Tell users in live chat who you are since they aren’t able to view Live Agent profile.
  • Replace buttons with Quick Replies
  • Replace URL Buttons with links
  • Remove restricted features, such as Send To Messenger buttons, Checkbox plugins, Galleries, and send/receive files.
  • Create a chatbot flow when users ask for “menu”

Facebook will keep updating new changes every day, so please bookmark and revisit this page as we try to provide you with the latest developments as soon as we get the news. If you still have any questions or need any advice, feel free to contact us or join our community.

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