Facebook's machine-learning 'M' has some new ideas.

By Tom Huddleston, Jr.
June 27, 2017

Facebook’s Messenger app wants to be more helpful.

In April, Facebook unveiled its artificial intelligence (AI) assistant “M,” which uses machine learning techniques to offer users suggestions for messages to write and actions to perform in the social networking site’s Messenger app. On Tuesday, Facebook unveiled a new set of suggestions that Messenger users will soon be seeing from M.

The messaging app’s AI assistant will now be able to suggest that people save content that’s posted in their Messenger conversations, including URLs and videos as well as Facebook posts or events, and it will also be able to suggest that you send your conversation partners a birthday card (or a personal note) if their special day is coming up soon. M will also be able to suggest that you use the Messenger app to make a voice or video call if it’s prompted by someone in your conversation expressing interest in a call.

Courtesy of Facebook

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Like previous suggestions from M that Facebook Messenger debuted more than two months ago, the new features are automated and they appear with the M logo in your Messenger conversations when the feature’s machine learning technology picks up on certain key words that trigger a suggestion.

When Facebook rolled out the M feature for iOS and Android users in April, the suggestions covered such actions as sharing your location with a friend, making plans, or creating a poll for a group conversation. Facebook also added the ability to pay or request money through the Messenger app with a mobile payment feature that is similar to popular services such as PayPal and its subsidiary, Venmo.

As Fortune reported previously, Facebook began testing the Messenger app suggestions in December before rolling out the feature for a wider range of users months later. The point of the M assistant feature is obviously to encourage deeper and more frequent user interaction with the Messenger app and its various features.

In other words, M may suggest that you strike up a conversation with a newly-added friend on the site, or friends you haven’t spoken to in a while. And the AI assistant will also encourage you to make use of the messaging app’s ancillary features, such as video chat or payments.

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