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Facebook Exec: How Messenger can improve your social life

JP Mangalindan
Chief Tech Correspondent

Thanks to artificial intelligence, Facebook Messenger already makes timely recommendations for stickers, payments and Uber or Lyft rides. But starting Tuesday, Messenger will suggest restaurants to order food from, too, through a new partnership with Delivery.com.

Delivery.com will be the first third-party business to take advantage of M Suggestions, Messenger’s virtual assistant. Rolled out earlier this month, M Suggestions uses artificial intelligence to understand what is being said in any given Messenger chat to make recommendations that pop up during the course of a conversation. In a group thread, for instance, if someone says, ‘hey, we should get pizza,’ M Suggestions now will suggest a nearby merchant you can order from via Delivery.com.

“We’re trying something new, which is M making suggestions for chat extensions which have been built by third parties,” David Marcus, vice president of Facebook’s (FB) messaging products, told Yahoo Finance on Tuesday at Facebook’s annual F8 conference, in the video above.

“Food ordering is a really good use case for that because traditionally speaking, if you’re in a group of people, and you’re about to order food, one person is the delegate on where to order food, what to order, and no one is truly satisfied because they didn’t get exactly what they wanted. Now, you can make it a social experience for the first time.”

Facebook on Tuesday also announced two additional Messenger features, including a new Discover tab that will appear and show you some of the businesses that have chat bots on Messenger for you to interact with. Basically, the Discover tab is a section dedicated to showcasing businesses, from CNN to Spotify, which do not pay Messenger to be featured on the platform. (Instead, Messenger relies on mobile advertising for revenues, as the rest of Facebook does.)

Ask Marcus what the future holds for Messenger, and he will play his cards close to his chest.

“Well, I think it all depends on our amazing 100,000 developer community we have, and what they’re going to build,” Marcus added.

JP Mangalindan is a senior correspondent for Yahoo Finance covering the intersection of tech and business. Follow him on Twitter or Facebook.  

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