The Whitehouse Chatbot Reviewed

Chatbot Reviews: The White House Chatbot

The team at 1080bots is continually reviewing chatbots to figure out how to create memorable conversational experiences that represent brands and deliver on ecommerce objectives. Here’s a review of the White House chatbot (September 2016). We discovered the White House chatbot in a Facebook Messenger recommendation. The chatbot promised that we’d get a message to President Obama, a great job for a chatbot 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. We 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 chatbot helpfully checked we’d finished and because we were actually writing to the POTUS, suggested that we should check what we’d written. As a chatbot, it could have easily recognized the language and spellchecked it for us too.

The White House Chatbot Confirm Message

Use of Profile Data

Facebook Messenger chatbots have access to profile information, so the chatbot knew our name, which may come over as a little creepy. An early introduction such as, “Hi <name>, 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 chatbot then checked our country and zip code. This is something we’re used to and with name, address and zip code, the street number is generally identifiable – so for the chatbot to ask for it is unnecessary. We’re also not sure why that’s being collected so the reason for asking could have been provided too.

The White House Chatbot Ask for Street Address

Chatbot Without Authentication

As we don’t know this chatbot, we became concerned when it asked for an email address. We found this bot 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 to go phishing with.

The White House Chatbot Ask for email

White House Chatbot Confused

At this point, the chatbot stopped understanding what we were saying even though it was contextual and relevant to this conversation. It went into repeat mode (which is where we think it failed). Given there are 7.5M followers on Facebook, there are not going to be enough humans on the Whitehouse staff to handle a deluge of calls or live chats that are passed over by a chatbot, however, the service could easily have passed us on to a page on the White House website.

The White House Chatbot Loop Problem

Unfortunately, because the Whitehouse chatbot didn’t do a great job of introducing itself, letting us know what was expected of us, and not responding to our biggest concern in a meaningful way, this ended up being a short conversation. White House chatbot, if you’re listening, we’d love to help you be better at this. Just email

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