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October 17, 2016updated 25 Oct 2016 1:04pm

White House open sources Facebook Messenger chatbot

Source code is now available on Github.

By Ellie Burns

The US government is looking to help other governments build bots, with the White House having shared open source code for President Obama’s Facebook Messenger bot.

Jason Goldman, Chief Digital Officer of the White House, said in a post announcing the open source move: “we’re open-sourcing this White House technology, with the hope that other governments and developers can build similar services—and foster similar connections with their citizens— with significantly less upfront investment.”


Jason Goldman, Chief Digital Officer of the White House.

This follows the White House launching a Facebook Messenger bot in August this year, with the aim to foster communication between US citizens and the Commander in Chief. Aiming to play an important part in ‘furthering our mission to “meet the public where they are”’, the open source drupal code is now available on Github, with digital chief Goldman explaining:

“While Drupal may not be the platform others would immediately consider for building a bot, this new White House module will allow non-developers to create bot interactions (with customized language and workflows), and empower other governments and agencies who already use Drupal to power their digital experiences.

“Now, there is one less barrier to being more accessible and responsive to constituents. We look forward to seeing what others build on top of this work.”

Bots have made the headlines not just in the White House, but also in the US Presidential Race. The Clinton Campaign has launched a voter registration bot, as well as a bot that imitates Republican opponent Donald Trump. The bot texts users’ quotes from Donald Trump, while the voter registration bot helps US citizens register to vote or verify that they are registered to vote.

Bots are not a foreign concept in the UK, with intelligent assistant Amelia helping to connect local citizens to find services.

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