Open Source

White House open-sources chatbot

Chat bubbles. Shutterstock image.

The White House opened the source code for the first government bot on Facebook Messenger in the hope that other governments and developers will use it to build similar services and foster online interactions with their citizens.

In an Oct. 14 blog post, White House Chief Digital Officer Jason Goldman said the Drupal module on GitHub comes with step-by-step instructions and boilerplate code that developers can use to launch their own Facebook Messenger bots. The repository also has a few lines about the Obama administration's hopes for the code's future and encouragement for developers to get involved in its distribution.

The goal of using Drupal is to "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," Goldman wrote.

President Barack Obama publicly responded to his first message on Facebook on Aug. 26, in an online version of the tradition of presidents answering select citizen letters. Since then, Goldman said Obama has received more than 1.5 million Facebook messages from people all over the world.

About the Author

Mark Rockwell is a senior staff writer at FCW, whose beat focuses on acquisition, the Department of Homeland Security and the Department of Energy.

Before joining FCW, Rockwell was Washington correspondent for Government Security News, where he covered all aspects of homeland security from IT to detection dogs and border security. Over the last 25 years in Washington as a reporter, editor and correspondent, he has covered an increasingly wide array of high-tech issues for publications like Communications Week, Internet Week, Fiber Optics News, tele.com magazine and Wireless Week.

Rockwell received a Jesse H. Neal Award for his work covering telecommunications issues, and is a graduate of James Madison University.

Click here for previous articles by Rockwell. Contact him at mrockwell@fcw.com or follow him on Twitter at @MRockwell4.


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