Eliminating 'Discover' And Hiding 'Chatbot', Facebook Simplifies Messenger

Facebook Messenger

How much is too much? For Facebook, the answer would be when features it introduced didn't perform as expected.

Messenger is Facebook messaging app that is unlike WhatsApp that Facebook also owns. It packs quite a lot of feature, more complex and indeed rather confusing to use if compared to WhatsApp. And here, it is getting a facelift to make it simpler, and more streamlined in design.

The first feature eliminated, is the Discover tab.

This was where users can browse and find Messenger bots, nearby places and businesses to message. Organized by category, recent activity and featured experiences, Discover complemented entry points, including advertising to Messenger Codes, me.me links and plugins.

Since not many of Facebook Messenger found this feature useful, Facebook is eliminating it with the update.

So instead of the Discover tab, users have one tab for chats, and another for People which highlights their contacts' Stories.

This way, Facebook can better reorients the People tab around Stories, as Facebook continues its attempt to dominate the ephemeral social media format it blatantly copied from Snapchat.

The next eliminated is Chatbots.

While not completely removed, Facebook is making it hidden. This is a contrast to when it was first released, when Facebook touted Chatbots as the future of Messenger. Chatbots were upfront and central to Facebook Messenger’s strategy at the time.

Unfortunately for Facebook, Chatbots usually provided little more than canned responses to the most basic inquiries. Appearing next to useless, Facebook is hiding it from view.

Users can still access it, like for example via a business Page, a QR code, or simply by searching for business. But otherwise, the feature is away from plain sight, along with Instant Games and businesses.

As part of Chatbots elimination, Facebook also made Messenger’s M Suggestions to no longer recommend the Transportation feature.

Facebook Messenger - no Discover
Facebook Messenger in becoming more streamlined with less clutter, and reorienting the People tab around Stories. (Credit: TechCrunch / Jeff Higgins)

As a part of Facebook continued commitment to simplify the Messenger experience, eliminating not popular tabs means cutting down unnecessary features.

Messenger had become one of the most bloated chat apps available. With the clutter down, Facebook Messenger should be able to streamline the platform, and bring back its core role as a functional messaging app.

Even if that part of the process forces Facebook to remove all business-focused elements of the app that weren’t serving users and were instead only there to help Facebook promote Messenger as some kind of text-based customer service hub.

But without the gimmick and all the unnecessary things, Facebook can have a hard time making Messenger a brand different from the straightforward app WhatsApp.

What's more, with the Discover tab removed, businesses will have to rely on their owned or paid marketing channels to gain traction for their chat bots. That could discourage them from building on the Messenger platform.

Either way, the update should make Messenger a lot cleaner, and easier to navigate as peripheral features aren't anymore present.

And since Messenger can show Stories ads, the changes should also benefit Facebook's revenue, because the update would make users spend more time communicating with the app rather than exploring for chat bots, connecting with businesses or playing games.