Facebook Gives Workers a Chatbot to Appease That Prying Uncle


SAN FRANCISCO — Some Facebook staff not too long ago informed their managers that they had been involved about answering tough questions on their office from family and friends over the vacations.

What if Mom or Dad accused the social community of destroying democracy? Or what in the event that they stated Mark Zuckerberg, Facebook’s chief govt, was gathering their on-line information on the expense of privateness?

So simply earlier than Thanksgiving, Facebook rolled out one thing to assist its staff: a chatbot that will educate them official firm solutions for coping with such thorny questions.

If a relative requested how Facebook dealt with hate speech, for instance, the chatbot — which is a easy piece of software program that makes use of synthetic intelligence to keep on a dialog — would instruct the worker to reply with these factors:

It would additionally recommend citing statistics from a Facebook report about how the corporate enforces its requirements.

The solutions had been put collectively by Facebook’s public relations division, parroting what firm executives have publicly stated.

And the chatbot has a identify: the “Liam Bot.” (The provenance of the identify is unclear.)

“Our employees regularly ask for information to use with friends and family on topics that have been in the news, especially around the holidays,” a Facebook spokeswoman stated. “We put this into a chatbot, which we began testing this spring.”

Facebook’s status has been shredded by a string of scandals — together with how the location spreads disinformation and can be utilized to meddle in elections — in recent times. In October, Mr. Zuckerberg was grilled by lawmakers for hours over everything from political advertising to work-force diversity.

For Facebook employees, that has sometimes led to questions from family and friends about why they would work for the Silicon Valley company. This year, Facebook fell to seventh place from the top spot when people were asked where they most wanted to work, according to a survey by Glassdoor, the employee reviews site.

Facebook announced the Liam Bot in a message to employees, the company said. In past years, Facebook provided employees with guidance for the holiday season by sharing news releases in internal groups, or directly with those who asked for advice. The company said it wanted to create a more efficient way to answer employee questions this year.

In its answers, the Liam Bot often links to company blog posts and news releases. It doesn’t just provide answers to difficult questions about Facebook’s role in the world, either. Liam Bot is also practical with personal technology advice.

For instance, if relatives asked a Facebook employee what to do if they were locked out of their Facebook accounts because of a password reset, Liam Bot could provide a step-by-step solution.

Erin Griffith contributed reporting.



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