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Facebook Messenger’s A.I. Will Now Help You Share GIFs and Buy Movie Tickets

Facebook’s Messenger app uses artificial intelligence to give users suggestions about everything from what to talk about with friends to sending money to friends over the phone.

On Thursday, the social networking giant announced three new automatic suggestions from the Messenger app’s virtual assistant, called “M.” Starting today, the assistant will suggest sharing animated GIFs pegged to certain common expressions (“thank you” calls up several animated options, for example) along with a series of Quick Replies (“yes,” “no,” “I think so”) anytime someone is asked a relatively simple question.

Meanwhile, Messenger has also partnered with movie ticketing service Fandango on a feature that jumps into users’ conversations when they mention a recently-released movie to suggest nearby showtimes and theaters. It also provides options for buying movie tickets directly in the Messenger app.

Facebook launched “M” for the Messenger app in April, and the company has been steadily adding new features backed by machine learning technology ever since. In June, Messenger started suggesting that users send friends virtual birthday cards in addition to adding suggestions for making voice or video calls.

 

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Messenger users have the option of muting the assistant in the app’s settings and they can also dismiss any suggestions the assistant offers that aren’t helpful. But, as always, Facebook is hoping that Messenger users will find these new suggestions useful, and that M can get people to use the app more frequently and to talk longer.

Earlier this year, Facebook said that the Messenger app had reached 1.3 billion users, and the app’s ongoing growth is important to the company as it looks to continue building its already massive ad business.

CORRECTION: This article has been corrected to show that Facebook Messenger recently reached 1.3 billion monthly users.