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Facebook Is Shutting Down Its M Hybrid Personal Assistant

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Facebook has announced that its M service, which is the text-based virtual assistant that used both humans and AI (artificial intelligence) will be ending.

It shouldn’t come as much of a surprise seeing how the human-enhanced version of the service was only available to a certain number of people in California.

Facebook announced the final version of M will be on Jan. 19 and any contractors who worked on the virtual assistant service will be offered work in another position at the company.

What Is Facebook M?

Facebook first revealed M back in 2015 with plans to progressively release the service to all users, but it remained in a private beta since its initial launch. M could act as an assistant by offering fully automated suggestions for payments, making plans, and sending stickers through Messenger.

M suggestions would scan words users would type into the Messenger chat to make recommendations. So, if a user was to mention recipes, then a Food Network bot may be recommended. They’d also make suggestions that could search through third-party services like Spotify or GIF. It could cue important meetings or create events and it could even call rides from car services like Uber.

This was long before the virtual assistant became such a huge deal and Facebook operated the system differently. Facebook’s assistant was text-based and used the social media sites Messenger service to communicate with users.

However, unlike Amazon and Google, Facebook’s virtual assistant was also part human. Behind the scenes, M relied on humans to answer more complex inquiries from users.

In April 2017, Facebook released a more recent version of M, which many users found to be underwhelming. The assistant digital assistant essentially stayed out of sight and watched the conversations users would have and then insert suggestions when it found something relevant. 

Although the M service has seen its last days, the company will keep its M suggestion feature, which can suggest relevant stickers or to offer to schedule meetings, dinners, or any important dates.

The company said in a statement that they’ve learned a lot from their time using M and are working on new AI projects on Facebook. They went on to say they are pleased with what they have learned from using the service.

As for the other projects, Facebook is currently allowing companies like Sephora to build chatbots for customer service on the social media channel.

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