The Whitehouse Chatbot Reviewed

Chatbot Reviews 1: The White House Chatbot

The team at 1080bots is continually reviewing chatbots to figure out how to create memorable conversational experiences that represent your brand and deliver your e-commerce objectives. Here is a review of the White House Chatbot (September 2016). I discovered the White House Chatbot in a Facebook Messenger recommendation. The bot promised that I’d get a message to President Obama, a great job for a bot collecting information from a lot of people and passing it on.


Opening Dialog

To begin, the White House Chatbot quickly declares its purpose to send these messages to the President. I thought that the laws protecting personal data would provide a good message to send to the President.


The White House Chatbot Initial Engagement

Confirming the Message

Next, the bot helpfully checked I’d finished and because I was actually writing to the POTUS, suggested I’d check what I’d written. As a bot, it could have easily recognized the language and spellchecked it for me too.

The White House Chatbot Confirm Message

Use of Profile Data

Facebook Messenger bots have access to profile information, so the bot knew my whole name, which may come over as a little creepy. An early introduction such as, “Hi Gam, I’m Benson, the White House chatbot… “, might be less surprising when the bot reveals what else it knows.

The White House Chatbot Confirm Name and Location

Collecting Sensitive Data

The bot then checked my country and zip code. This is something we’re used to and with name, address and zip code street number is generally identifiable – so for the bot to actually ask this is unnecessary. And I’m not sure why that is being collected, so the reason could have been provided too.

The White House Chatbot Ask for Street Address

Chatbot without Authentication

As I don’t know this bot, I became concerned when I was asked for my email address. I found it in the Messenger directory and it provided no authentication. It would have been easy to create a bot called The White House and collect a few million emails. That’s a lot of email addresses I could go phishing with.

The White House Chatbot Ask for email

White House Chatbot Confused

At this point the bot stopped understanding what I was saying even though it was contextual and relevant to this conversation. It just went into repeat mode which is where the I think it failed. Now given there are 7.5M followers on Facebook, there are not going to be enough humans on staff to handle a deluge of calls or live chats. As it failed to understand, the service could have passed us on to a page on the White House website.

The White House Chatbot Loop Problem

Unfortunately, because the Whitehouse bot did a pretty poor job of introducing itself, telling me what was expected of me, and not responding to my biggest concern in a meaningful way, this ended up being a short conversation. White House bot, if you’re listening, we’d be happy to include you in one of our Bot Boot Camps. Just email ez@firstretail.com

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