A Popular Facebook Chatbot Is Now Providing Free Legal Advice For Refugees

March 7, 2017, 2:44 PM UTC
Facebook Messenger Platform Everlane app
A confirmed order from e-commerce site Everlane in Facebook's Messenger app.
Courtesy: Facebook

The creator of the Facebook chatbot DoNotPay, which helped overturn more than 160,000 parking tickets, has updated the “robot lawyer” to give free legal advice to refugees.

Stanford student Joshua Browder, who created the original DoNotPay when he was 19 years old, reprogrammed the chatbot to help individuals file immigration applications in the U.S. and Canada, according to the Guardian. The bot can also assist refugees in the U.K. with applying for asylum support, the Guardian reports.

The London-based developer said he worked with a number of lawyers to get the program right.

“I’ve been trying to launch this for about six months – I initially wanted to do it in the summer,” Browder told the Guardian. “But I wanted to make sure I got it right because it’s such a complicated issue. I kept showing it to lawyers throughout the process and I’d go back and tweak it. That took months and months of work, but we wanted to make sure it was right.”

The bot is designed with a user-friendly interface by asking users a series of questions in English to gather the most accurate answers required to capably inform the participant. Browder told the Guardian the next step is making the program available in other languages. While Browder said he’d like to expand its function to WhatsApp in the near future, the developer is happy with the chatbot’s home on Facebook Messenger.

“It works with almost every device, making it accessible to over a billion people,” he told the Guardian.

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