Facebook messages autoresponder

I went looking today for tools to create an autoresponder for Facebook's private messaging functions. I try to avoid using Facebook's messaging whenever possible, but that doesn't stop someone who I'm connected to there from sending me a private message, which then most often sits unreplied for weeks or months. Having an autoreply that encouraged message senders to email me instead would save me some time and help make sure the contact attempt got through in a timely manner.

The bottom line is that the options are very limited and I may need to build my own if it feels important enough to pursue. In the meantime I thought I'd post my findings here in case there are others looking for the same, or who have new ideas to share.

It would be interesting to know if the possibility of autoreplying to messages or disabling messages altogether has been given much consideration within Facebook. It would make sense within their business model that they want people coming into the Facebook ecosystem for communicating as much as possible, so I doubt we'll see a change in options here any time soon.

If you have other ideas/tools for scratching this particular itch (other than the obvious "disable your Facebook account") or other ways you approach this issue, please share in the comments!

Updated March 21, 2016: I revisited this issue again today just to see if any new options have emerged, and I didn't find any. The read_mailbox permission has been deprecated from Facebook's API, and they note "This permission is granted to apps building a Facebook-branded client on platforms where Facebook is not already available. For example, Android and iOS apps will not be approved for this permission. In addition, Web, Desktop, in-car and TV apps will not be granted this permission." All of the other scrapers, tools and services I can find that have ever been able to access a user's messages are shut down or unmaintained. The Facebook Terms of Service have been updated to explicitly prohibit any kind of scraping of data from their site, even your own. In short, Facebook is very intentionally preventing anyone from accessing their messages except through the web and official apps.

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Chris Hardie

Chris Hardie is an Internet tech geek, problem solver, community-builder and amicable cynic.

42 thoughts on “Facebook messages autoresponder”

  1. Outsourcing facebook communication is what I am looking for. Autoresponder is the minimal feature. I believe people are ready to pay for that. Maybe we could launch a company?)

  2. Did you by any chance find an option to do this? I have the same problem. People using FB Chat and Messenger like its official communications and I would rather that people send an email so that i can go back and refer to communications in a single strand. An auto responder that simply responds saying I dont read messages and to send me an email, would be perfect.

  3. It looks like the first option isn't even an option anymore since they are now dialing the private message auto responder. I would totally pay for something like this, because my Facebook messages have become a tech support area for my customers and it is insanely annoying to have that stuff coming in through personal channels and no way to push it into my workflow.

  4. This looked promising: http://autorelaxed.com/, but after reading the FAQ it autoresponds to both messages (great) and facebook wall posts (not great).

    It's almost there, but I can't find any option to turn off the wall post autoresponder....

    1. And now when you try to sign up, a warning pops up saying that due to "technical difficulities" they don't support responding to PMs any more...

  5. Facebook will continue trying to prevent people from doing this, because they make their money with advertisements and data collection. They don't want you to be able to look in another place for your messages. I am really confused about things like facebook right now. I find I need it to find out about events in my area, and that many friends only communicated with me from it. But Their business model is incredibley unhealthy for organizing, order and self-directed computer use. I wish I could figure out a way to sidestep teh whole thing.

  6. Fecebook is becoming Myspace. Soon enough, Mark will be the only user of Facebook, like Tom is the only one left on Myspace.

    Getting serious. I did a 3.5 minutes googling session (I have mad googling skills) and found autorelaxed.com.
    In the past they had that option, but currently they say:
    "We have temporarily disabled auto replies for private messages because of technical difficulties. We are sorry for the inconvenience."

    Let us hope they will fix it soon.

  7. A plug in or app for this would sell like hotcakes. It is such a necessary function that businesses need to function. Being able to instantly respond to pm from clients letting them know the time they can expect a reply.

  8. This is just like many things about FB, they don't expose things like this in the API specifically so you can't do these things. Even if it may have been possible at some point, their new "Message Requests" feature reeks of a new advertising avenue (remember "sponsored stories"?), they would be taking that out of the API soon. As Stan mentioned, people probably would be willing to pay.

    Buffer (bufferapp.com) is a service that gained prevalence simply by allowing profiles to schedule posts (a feature only available to pages). They have had a few close calls with the API lately, one which shut the whole service down for a little less than a day. They eventually worked it out with Facebook, but the point is Facebook is becoming more and more intentional with the functionality they expose in their API.

    APIs are not becoming the boon to web developers they were once going to be. It's the simple & obvious functions that are left out. For example, neither of the big two cloud storage services (OneDrive & Google Drive) expose any way of knowing when a file is placed in the drive, so it is impossible to (for example) have a file placed in one automatically copied to the other.

    Hopefully the push for microformats & information freedom will motivate this end, but I'm not holding my breath because that would also mean less traffic through a system they control, which closes the door on any further adverts (etc) in those spaces.

    1. But there is an API for Facebook messages, ever since they turned messages into chat, they're accessible via XMPP. The problem can be reduced to building an autoresponder bot.

  9. The solution here: http://fbmassmessage.thinkitpro.com/ does not seem to reply to CHAT messages. The Facebook Autoresponder claims to do this, HOWEVER, it is flagged by both McAfee AND Web of Trust (WOT) as untrustworthy, and as containing Malware.

    I've asked FaceBook Purity (FBP) if they have an plans to incorporate a Chat Autoresponder, and will post their answer here (when I receive it).

    1. As some here have noted, you can turn FB Chat OFF, but people can still send you messages that you will never see.

      I had high hoped that FaceBook Purity (FBP) would be working on something that would function as an autoresponder, but I only received vacant responses from that team... If anyone has an "in" with FBP, I still believe that product is well-positioned to achieve the results we are looking for.

  10. Hey guys,
    Facebook Pages (2016) has this function in-built!
    Go to your Facebook Page > Settings > Messaging > Instant Replies

    It works perfectly - if someone messages your Facebook page in the middle of the night and there's no customer service staff online, you can set the instant reply to be something generic like "Thank you for your message - we will respond to you within n hours from .

    1. I'm glad Facebook offers this option to organizations and businesses with pages, but it doesn't help my personal account, which is where I receive all of the message activity for which I'd want an auto reply system.

    2. I concur...Sadly, I believe that Facebook is looking to monetize the Messaging feature, so won't endorse any ways to subdue it...
      Perhaps the folks at Fluff Busting Purity (FBP) can be persuaded to meet this need.

    1. That's really great!
      Is this some kind of a script used there? I am running a server 24/7 (Debian Linux). Can I run your script there natively? Because of heavy workload and limited ressources on this server I can not run an additional VM on it.

    2. Thanks for putting this together, Jamie! I'll try it out soon.

      As new comments come in with questions about Jamie's tool, this site probably isn't a great place to address them all. 🙂 I'll suggest that they might be best directed instead to the Issues area of the Github repo linked: https://github.com/jkp/fbautorespond/issues - that way Jamie can track and respond there, and those of you trying things out can contribute improvements along the way.

  11. @Stefan: the script is node.js based. If you have node.js installed you can run `npm install` in the project directory, then run the script as documented on the README page. I've updated the README to give clearer instructions to those who are not familiar with `node.js`

    1. @Felix: there are instructions on the Github page: unfortunately it's a bit technical (you need to understand about node.js and optionally Docker). It's not easy for me to make this more straightforward for people unfortunately without hosting for multiple users, but see my comment below - there is no secure way to do that unfortunately so I haven't looked into it.

  12. Guys, I am very happy that you found a solution for auto-replying to private messages. But as I see to do that you need really good IT skills and a machine than runs 24/7 ?

    Is there something for simple people, who just want to take a break from social media?

    I have an issue, where through my life I collected almost 2k friends on facebook and just ended up seeing how the life lately runs through facebook - we communicate there, we make appointments, we share emotions there.

    I need a change. I decided to quit and I need auto reply to notify people about that.

    In addition I am a musician, so somebody who contacts me over private profile would know that they should call me or email me instead.

    If you create a program that will help with that and it is simple to use - you will save this world from something bad:))

    1. Hey there...

      I did create such a program, but yes, to make it run you need a server or computer running 24/7 somewhere. I have thought about setting up a service somewhere where I could run it for multiple users but since it uses an unofficial API to interact with Facebook that unfortunately means that logins need to be done with a username/password combination: this in turn would mean to run it for other people I would need them to share their login details which is not a secure way to run such a service.

      Unfortunately Facebook go out of their way to prevent people interacting with the messages platform in an automated manner: if they had an open API this would be easy to solve but as you can imagine, that's not something that fits with their business strategy.

      So in summary: it is possible to set something up (using my script) but it's a bit technical unfortunately. If you want this to be easier, lobby Facebook for them to open an API 🙂

  13. Hi There
    I have developed a Facebook Autoresponder that uses the register API.

    Each user creates their own secure account to utilize all the tools inside

    It can be used in a squeeze page, as the medium to collect facebook emails and FB id. Sends out an immediate message after registering and then sends out up to 365 messages; 1 per day or whatever sequence you set up, just like Aweber or any of the others.

    You can send broadcasts, individual messages and timed special events. All data is stored off of facebook on a dedicated server (mine).

    It is a .PHP script so any OS can use it and as it is cloud based you can access it with any mobile phone, tablet, PC or apple device.

    There is no reason why a rendition of this could not solve your challenges, by making sure you have a "contact me" button; (or similar) prominently displayed on your fan page.

    Your thoughts on this appreciated.
    Ron

    1. Hi, Ron. I am not familiar with many term you use in your message above, but I would really like to know if all that you have written means that you have created and auto-reply system for private Facebook profiles?

      If this is true, then I am really interested in using it and would like to know how to do that and if it costs money.

      Greetings!

  14. Hi Mantas

    I think maybe I miss understood the parameters of the auto reply for private messages.

    I will look deeper into this and see if I can code something to fit the bill. It may take me a wee while.

  15. I downloaded Faceply, and it seems pretty intuitive; however, I don't have any way to confirm it is working. I did receive one message since I set it up, but my 'auto-response' was not displayed in the Message Thread.

    While the interface looks pretty intuitive, it isn't clear how the "Reply once every x seconds' works -- where can I find a bit of documentation?

    Looks GREAT, BTW!! THANK YOU!

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