In Facebook’s big push to make Messenger about more than just your friends, the social network has started suggesting businesses you might want to chat with as well.
The suggestions are hidden under the search bar normally labelled “for people and groups”. Facebook has added an extra line of 20 suggested businesses that you could chat with as well — although it’s hard to tell why those businesses are ones you’d want to talk to at all.
When I tried talking to ride-hailing service Lyft, the company told me chat wasn’t an option. ClassPass did say “hi there” back to me, and Chase told me they could handle any requests I have.
The rest of the companies on my list of 20 were a mix of small town newspapers that I have no connection to or organisations like the Southern Poverty Law Center.
So far, the feature includes a seemingly small sampling of businesses, but it does point to Facebook’s larger ambitions of turning talking to businesses into a business itself.
The Information first found references to the “suggested business” feature in the source code. This appears to be the first time the feature has been spotted in the app itself.
Facebook, like many internet companies, often conduct limited “bucket tests” with a select group of users, so it’s possible that this is jut an experiment rather than a definite new feature. The suggested businesses list appeared on the Messenger app that’s on my iPhone, though other iPhone owning colleagues did not see the feature.
As The Information pointed out in its earlier report, having a suggested business section does open the door to companies paying to promote themselves to be in the top five slots.
Facebook had already announced that it’s working with retailers like Zulily and Everlane to power shopping in the app. Messenger also already has an option to order an Uber through the app. Yet, none of those established partners showed up in my list of suggested businesses, possibly hinting at more business announcements still to come.
Facebook did not immediately return a request for comment.