If you ever wanted to tell President Obama what you think of him or his policies but didn’t want to bother with traditional forms of communications like letters and email, then you should give Facebook’s new White House Messenger bot a try.
Since he took office, President Obama reportedly reads ten letters from citizens each night, even responding to some with hand-written letters. The new Messenger chat application promises to facilitate the communication between people and the White House. When you try to use the new bot, it greets you and also mentions that the president will read ten of these messages every night.
After its initial greeting, the bot prompts you to click on ‘Let’s go!’ after which the input box appears and you can write whatever you would like to say to President Obama. After finishing a message, the bot requires a confirmation of your intention to send it, and it even gives you a chance to spell check your message.
In order to avoid spam and other random messages, the chat bot asks for your contact information before the message is sent. This type of information includes your email, phone number, and US mailing address. The collection of personal data is also meant to act as a measure to deter individuals who could use the new system just to harass and threaten.
President Obama stated in a press release that the previous letters he received have inspired on more than one occasions, action on real problems that people face.
According to Jason Goldman, the White House’s Chief Digital Officer:
“Our goal is to meet people where they are. It’s why the President launched his own Twitter account, and the First Lady is on Snapchat. It’s about creating opportunities for people to engage with their government in new and accessible ways, using the same technologies we already rely on in our daily lives.”
Some other previous opportunities for people to engage with their government included the ‘We the People’ White House initiative which allowed citizens to start petitions online with the promise of an ‘official response’ after it reaches a number of signatures. The required number of signatures was gradually increased from 5, 000 to 100,000 after some prank proposal like the construction of a real-life Death Star.
Have you even sent a message to a president? Will you try the Facebook bot?