A Facebook spokesman told Business Insider the company started testing the bot in spring.
Facebook employees received a strange gift this holiday season.
As first reported by the New York Times, Facebook built a custom chatbot for its employees to use when going home for Thanksgiving. The purpose: to help them answer difficult questions posed by family members by feeding them with the requisite company line.
A chatbot is a piece of software that responds to text or speech. With Facebook constantly in the news for perceived inadequacies in dealing with a host of issues from election meddling to data surveillance, the idea is that the chatbot would prompt employees with the company line when confronted by family members. Facebook named its awkward-holiday-conversation-assistant "Liam Bot."
The Times gave the example of how Liam Bot would handle questions about how Facebook handles hate speech - which the company has been accused of allowing to run rampant on its platform.
According to the Times, the chatbot would then churn out a series of rebuttals including "Facebook consults with experts on the matter," "It has hired more moderators to police its content," "It is working on AI to spot hate speech," and "Regulation is important for addressing the issue."
A Facebook spokesman confirmed the existence of Liam Bot to Business Insider. "Our employees regularly ask for information to use with friends and family on topics that have been in the news, especially around the holidays," he said, adding that the company began testing the chatbot in spring of this year.
Liam Bot is not only built to handle political disagreement, it can also help with less tech-savvy family members who need help with their Facebook accounts.
Facebook did not comment when asked by Business Insider on whether Liam Bot will be kept active and updated over Christmas.