Social media giant Facebook is shutting down its digital assistant, M, more than two years after it launched the text-based chatbot.
The Mark Zuckerberg-led firm had built M for its Messenger chat platform in an attempt to rival Apple’s Siri and Google Assistant.
Users with access to the beta mode of M recently started receiving messages about the service being discontinued. Facebook said M will officially shut down on January 19.
Is Facebook M shutting down? pic.twitter.com/kcBa7ep6Sf
— Ryan Sarver (@rsarver) January 8, 2018
First announced in 2015, M used human trainers to guide Facebook’s artificial intelligence system. M could answer a Facebook user’s queries on the Messenger app about gift recommendations and table reservations at restaurants, among other services.
Facebook had leveraged its acquisition of artificial intelligence Wit.ai in 2015 to develop M.
Of late, however, voice-based assistants have been gaining traction with Amazon’s Alexa leading the charge.
But Facebook sought to put a positive spin on M’s discontinuation.
“We launched this project to learn what people needed and expected of an assistant, and we learned a lot,” a Facebook spokesperson was quoted as saying by BuzzFeed. “We’re taking these useful insights to power other AI projects at Facebook.”
A Business Insider report quoted a company source as saying that M was only rolled out to a few thousand users out of the company’s 1.37 billion daily active users.
M will live on in some form and will help users with suggestions for relevant stickers or scheduling meetings. The company has also said that other tools that allow companies to make bots will still be available.
According to a Verge report, employees who were working on M will be accommodated in other departments at the company.
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