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UX Best Practices: Using Emojis, Stickers and Gifs with Bots for Messenger

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Emojis, GIFs and stickers are commonly used in person to person communication, though they have slightly different uses and meanings. Here’s what we know about the use of these forms of communication between people:
  • Of the three types, emojis are more serious/formal in the information they convey, followed by stickers and GIFs.
  • When compared to emojis, people typically send stickers and GIFs to close friends and family members
  • GIFs are considered “funny” and “expressive.” Compared to emojis and stickers, GIFs are more expressive and can express emotions more precisely.
  • A single emoji can be sent as a form of expression, but are also often sent as a sequence of emojis (e.g. 🎉🎉🎉 to emphasize the sentiment or 🙄😜😂 to express more complex emotions).
  • Manage User Expectations: Be direct about what your bot can / can’t do. If you don’t want to provide support for gifs, images, etc. the best thing to do is to be clear with users that your bot doesn’t understand these. You can be direct and formal (“I’m sorry, I don’t know how to interpret images, gifs and stickers.”) or, based on your bot’s personality, you can respond with something more in character (“Sorry, I don’t have eyes! I can’t see images or gifs you send me.” or “My creators didn’t give me the capability to understand gifs and images. Can you help me by typing your response instead?”).
  • Train by Example: Just like with all bot outputs, if a bot says something to a user, then the expectation is that the bot will also understand the thing that it said. If you use GIFs, emojis and stickers in your responses to users, they are more likely to send them back to your bot, so be sure and provide support for bi-directional conversation based on the components your bot uses in conversation.
  • Understand sentiment: If possible, try to understand the sentiment behind the emoji that you’re responding to. Understanding sentiment is much harder for stickers and GIFs, but because emojis were standardized by the Unicode Consortium in 2010 as part of Unicode 6.0, there are tools out there that you can leverage for emojis. EmojiNet will provide keywords and similar emojis to the one being searched for, or can also search emojis based on a particular sentiment. There are also some sentiment analysis packages out there that can be used. Here are just a few: Github list of emoji rated for valence in JSON, Emoji > Sentiment library from NPM, Github emoji analysis
  • Provide meaningful output: For the most common emojis, you can hard code responses directly if you can’t integrate sentiment analysis. At the bare minimum, it is important to try and respond to the most common emojis and stickers from users with meaningful outputs (i.e. have a response and make sure it’s not a variant of “I don’t understand”). One of the most commonly used emoji/sticker in Facebook Messenger is the thumbs up sticker. You can consider this an acknowledgement from the user, so consider experimenting with responding as you would if the user said “ok” or “thanks” to your bot by using the thumbs up instead. Here’s an article that provides a list of the most common emojis from users in 2017 for Messenger.
  • Be cautious about mismatches in the bot response with the user sentiment: Don’t respond to a negative emoji, sticker, etc. with a positive response. It makes the user feel like they’re not being heard when providing negative feedback and it loses credibility. Additionally, there are very few circumstances in which ignoring user input is a good idea, so try not to ignore these inputs just because they’re different. Example of an interaction to avoid:

There are some significant advantages to using emojis, GIFs and stickers in your responses. It can be a great way to incorporate a bot personality that embodies your brand. It can also make the conversation more lighthearted, or more casual, which might be appropriate in some contexts. For example, recent research shows that adding emojis to engage users might work out well, but asking them questions about their physical activity might be better received without the use of emojis. However, if used, keep in mind that emojis do not look the same on every platform and they might have ambiguous meanings to users based on their cultural background and language.

Emojis come as text messages to your callback. Here are a couple of examples:

{ 
“sender”: { 
“id”: “<PSID>” 
},
“recipient”: { 
“id”: “<PAGE_ID>”
},
“timestamp”: 1458692752478,
“message”: { 
“mid”:”1B_UBJYvePYnQAOMIZLZJLC5640S_K72IRsYiZ2aIIz
FcDlDnKZPOllmCesLRzO_2YvwnX0VE2iVctjh-OmXVg”,
“seq”: 59333,
“text”: “:)”
} 
}{ 
"sender": { 
"id": "<PSID>" 
},
"recipient": { 
"id": "<PAGE_ID>"
},
"timestamp": 1544141335159,
"message": { 
"mid":"zFYmb2mX3vOeZzo62ZnRCbC5640S_K72IRsYiZ2aIIyvZGGRoG
RRevhV3qZwjiCA9z82sNv2ri-slKgIqLshFw",
"seq": 59382,
"text": "🙂"
} 
}

In both of the above cases, the user sees the same message sent to your bot, as Messenger will convert 🙂 to 🙂 for the user on screen. But because in one case the user typed “:)” and in another they selected the emoji from the emoji menu, your callback will receive slightly different input. Keep this in mind as you’re implementing your solution, so that your bot’s behavior is consistent across these two inputs, which are considered identical by users.

Images and GIFs have the exact same structure in the callback message your webhook receives. The developer documentation has a good example here.

Stickers have a slightly different format in the callback message. Here is an example of the thumbs up sticker that can be found on the bottom right corner of the Messenger user input bar.

{ 
"sender": { 
"id": "<PSID>" 
},
"recipient": { 
"id": "<PAGE_ID>"
},
"timestamp": 1544141768928,
"message": { 
"mid":"ZElljPP9ttpinKrBWi_9F7C5640S_K72IRsYiZ2aI
IxCiWwEDgmwqsDfPnRJeEaCT9YDHbK7rLtEJlJjvq0DWg",
"seq": 59406,
"sticker_id": 369239263222822,
"attachments": [ 
{
"type": "image",
"payload": {
"url": "https://scontent.xx.fbcdn.net/v/t39.1997- 6/39178562_1505197616293642_5411344281094848512_n.png?_nc_cat=1&_nc_log=1&_nc_oc=AWOixYXgN71O7TwlRODnEhedCoenAU8uS2YslmfhKRJlZxcSTLO_tXRQfH1lGtJtymQ37EKdtAY0XQ&_nc_ad=z-m&_nc_cid=0&_nc_ht=scontent.xx&oh=6156b594b1791351766973d936bebff1&oe=5C684675",
"sticker_id": 369239263222822
} 
} 
] 
}
}

In the example above, each sticker has a unique sticker_id. However, there’s no description of what the sticker means, or any way to look it up. The attachment is similar to the ones for images and GIFs and will give you the URL of the sticker, but will also contain the sticker_id again. During your design phase, you can choose not to support stickers at all (since they’re easily identifiable), or alternately you could choose to only support the most common stickers that users might send, and store your own mapping between the sticker and the sticker_id by trying the stickers out in your bot.

Developing a bot that handles emojis, GIFs, and stickers can be challenging, but when development is done and the bot is live, the experience between your bot <> audience can become colorful and imaginative. Have fun experimenting with different responses. Take the time to understand your audience and the way they want and love to interact. By using that information to build out your bot in a unique way, you will quickly find a recipe for success.

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Helping Prevent Discrimination in Ads that Offer Housing, Employment or Credit Opportunities.

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iscrimination has no place on Facebook, and our advertising policies have long prohibited unlawful discrimination. Over the last year, our auditors have released two progress updates on Facebook’s Civil Rights Audit and we reached a historic settlement with leading civil rights organizations. As part of the settlement, we introduced a new process for how advertisers based in the US, or trying to reach audiences in the US, can buy ads that offer housing, employment or credit opportunities. These ads are known as Special Ad Categories and are restricted from using the following targeting criteria: age, gender, ZIP code, multicultural affinity or any detailed options describing or appearing to relate to protected characteristics.The Latest News from Facebook for Business

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Facebook Brings WhatsApp Integration to Its Revamped Crisis Response Tool

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Social network giant Facebook is adding a WhatsApp button to crisis response tool, its disaster-reporting and communications feature where a user requests or offers help during a time of emergency. The tool is being used in 300 crises in more than 80 countries presently.

The new feature will allow people in affected areas to provide real-time information related to any disaster, TechCrunch.com reported on Tuesday.

Formerly, replies to requests on Facebook’s crisis response pages could only be sent with Facebook Messenger.

The update allow the social network to provide this information to state and local officials, as well as federal relief agencies such as Direct Relief and the National Alliance for Public Safety GIS Foundation.

Facebook is also expanding its Data for Good tools, using its data to provide relief organisations with information on where to distribute supplies, based on aggregated, anonymised data.

Additionally, Facebook is also updating its disaster maps to be more accurate in collaboration with agencies such as the International Displacement Monitoring Centre.

The new features will allow for photo and video sharing within the Crisis Response centre on Facebook.

Crisis Response originally developed out of a handful of features that help family, friends and communities support one another in the wake of a disaster.

NDTV Gadgets360.com

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Facebook to Allow Transfer of Photos, Videos to Google, Other Rivals

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Facebook started testing a tool on Monday that lets users move their images more easily to other online services, as it faces pressure from regulators to loosen its grip on data. The social network’s new tool will allow people to transfer their photos and videos directly to competing platforms, starting with Google Photos. The company said it will first be available to people in Ireland and will be refined based on user feedback.

The tool will then be rolled out worldwide in the first half of 2020.

US and European regulators have been examining Facebook’s control of personal data such as images as they look into whether the tech giant’s dominance is stifling competition and limiting choice for consumers. Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg has reacted by calling for new rules to address “data portability” and other issues.

Facebook said that as it worked on a new set of data portability tools, it had discussions with policymakers, regulators, and academics in the UK, Germany, Brazil, and Singapore to learn about which data should be portable and how to protect privacy.

The company is developing products that “take into account the feedback we’ve received and will help drive data portability policies forward by giving people and experts a tool to assess,” Steve Satterfield, director of privacy and public policy, said in a blog post.

NDTV Gadgets360.com

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