The Guardian has launched a news chatbot on Facebook Messenger in a further experimentation with the format that it first used to share recipes this summer.
A chatbot is a computer programme that a user can interact with in a conversational, human way. The idea being that you can ask it any question and it will give you the answer.
Send a message to the Guardian on Facebook Messenger, whatever it may be, and you’ll be met with a polite response from the “prototype chatbot” asking if you want a daily news briefing.
Say “yes” and it will ask you what time you want it delivered in the morning and whether you’d like to see the headlines or the most popular stories of the moment.
Either choice will bring up a selection of about five news stories within the messenger, each with a picture, headline and top line taken from the Guardian website’s home page.
It is currently the only task the virtual assistant can perform – asking it questions or making other demands will prompt a confused reply – but more functionality seems to be on the cards.