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Leaked Document Reveals that Facebook are Putting Ads into Messenger

If you've been paying attention to the way Facebook have been tinkering around with Messenger, you probably saw this one coming. In fact, it's been looming like the Sword of Damocles for months, if the Sword of Damocles was covered in logo stickers and sang the Nationwide jingle every time you swung it. Facebook's news feed is crawling with ads now and they're finding new and aggravating ways to shoehorn 'recommended' and sponsored content anywhere it'll fit.

How do they keep getting away with this? They don't make any kind of announcement, they just sneak things in, and by the time people have noticed, it's too late to make a fuss about it. This time though, somebody else made the announcement for them, as a document was sent to TechCrunch by an anonymous source. The document reveals that from Q2 2016, businesses will be able to directly message ads to anyone who has messaged them previously.

That sounds fairly harmless, by itself, but then the document encourages businesses to put more emphasis on starting conversation threads with customers, preferably before this feature launches. One way of interpreting that is that Facebook are telling business to get people signed up to this messaging service before they even know what it is or how to avoid it, or at least they were, before the document was leaked.

Facebook have since responded, largely brushing it off as hearsay, but in no way denying anything stated within it. The document does also include some information about a short URL which opens business chat threads instantly. Facebook have confirmed that these do indeed exist, which by extension could validate the entire document. It wouldn't be in Facebook's best interests to confirm that everything in the document is true, better to just wait it out and carry on as if nothing had happened.

The idea with enabling people to speak to brands through Messenger is supposed to act as a kind of replacement for the 0800 number, so I guess it makes a certain amount of sense that it comes with a new kind of telemarketing, but Facebook have repeatedly insisted that you'll never be contacted by any business that you haven't previously communicated with.

That's all well and good, but in many cases people only need to contact a business for help once, or a handful of times. If Facebook want to reassure people about this service, they should include some kind of opt-out, similar to how you can make sure that the sites you make accounts on don't send you emails unless you want them to. Beyond anything else though, this is further incentive for Facebook to make absolutely sure Messenger stays secure from spammers and hackers.

Callum is a film school graduate who is now making a name for himself as a journalist and content writer. His vices include flat whites and 90s hip-hop. Follow him @CallumAtSMF

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Leaked Document Reveals that Facebook are Putting Ads into Messenger Reviewed by Unknown on Friday, February 19, 2016 Rating: 5

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