A Facebook Messenger bot for group chats.
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README.md

AssumeZero Bot

About

AssumeZero Bot is a highly configurable bot that can be added to Facebook Messenger group chats. It is designed to expose features that may be hidden or made difficult to use by Messenger's UI, both on desktop and mobile. In addition to this functionality, it also connects to several different external services, like Spotify, Wolfram|Alpha, and OpenWeatherMap.

The bot was written with Node.js and the incredible Facebook Chat API, which allows the bot to emulate a Facebook user who can be added and removed from chats. As of this writing, Facebook's official API can still only be used in one-on-one conversations.

Usage

Most of the bot's features are activated with a "trigger word," which can be changed in config.js. The default trigger word is "physics" and most commands will be in the form:

physics command [options]

To see a list of commands, use:

physics help

Basic Commands

As a rule of thumb, the bot is capable of doing everything that a human user can do on the desktop version of Messenger. This includes messaging the chat, adding and removing users, and modifying user nicknames. Let's take a look:

physics alive

physics add

physics kick

physics rename

However, being a bot comes with its own set of advantages. For example, the bot can remove a user for a certain period of time before adding them back automatically!

physics kick (time)

Because the bot interfaces directly with Facebook's endpoints through the Facebook Chat API, it often has access to an expanded set of abilities that are not directly available through Messenger's UI.

For instance, it can set the chat emoji to any emoji supported by Messenger rather than just those provided by the default palette.

physics emoji

It can also query Facebook to perform searches for users, pages, and groups. This can be used to verify that the user being added via the "add" command is the one you actually want to add: the add command first performs a search for the given user that is weighted based on its Facebook-determined proximity (the "rank" in a search result) and then adds the first user to result from this query.

physics search

There are plenty more commands like this, such as poll, title, and photo, but they all operate on a similar premise to these basic examples. Check out the help entries for these commands to learn more.

Database-dependent Commands

The bot stores information about each conversation that it is a part of in its database. This information is initialized the first time it is added to a chat, so you will see this message:

Init message

After this, the group's information will be continously updated in the background as it receives new messages. This means that any changes to the group's properties, such as adding/removing users, changing the title or photo, or updating the colors or emoji, will be reflected in the bot's database entry for the conversation, which allows it to stay up-to-date and use these properties when needed without the need for a blocking network call.

As a result of this persistent storage, certain commands can store and retrieve information about the conversation and its participants.

The simplest of these is the vote command, which comes in two variants, to increase and decrease a user's globally-tracked 'score' respectively:

physics > physics <

What this score indicates is arbitrary and is up to the user to decide, but regardless of its usage, the scores of any users in a group chat can be shown with the scoreboard command:

physics scoreboard

Similarly, the score of a single user can be retrieved with the score command:

physics score

The bot can list statistics for its usage with the stats command -- this command can list aggregated data for all commands, but it also takes an optional command argument to display more specific information about a given command, including its most prolific user (if they are in the chat1. The data collected for these statistics does not contain any specific messages from a conversation, but rather global counts of how many times a user has used that command. In other words, no private data is stored.

physics stats

Now for some more interesting stuff -- the playlist command interfaces with the Spotify API2 to store playlists for each user and retrieve songs from them on command. To add a playlist to the chat, you'll need its Spotify URI and a user to associate it to. Once stored, the song command can be used to get a random song from it. See the help entries for these commands for more information.

physics song

The bot can keep a running tab for each conversation, allowing users to keep track of any shared finances and easily split costs between them. Several child commands exist for this command:

physics tab physics tab add physics tab split

Add and subtract have a default value of $1, and the split command will split between all members in the group by default, but it accepts an optional parameter to indicate how many people the tab should be split between.

Lastly, the pin command will allow you to pin a message that can be recalled later; this is useful for keeping track of something in an active chat where it would otherwise get buried.

physics pin message physics pin

Fun Commands

Note: Several of these commands interface with external APIs that may require configuration in config.js, but for the most part can be used with the keys I've already provided (although you may want to generate your own for each API so that we're not sharing usage limits).

These commands are pretty simple, so I'll show them without explanation and you can get more info in the help entries:

physics xkcd physics weather physics space physics wiki physics wolfram

Be careful with this one (see Under the Hood for safety precautions taken):

physics execute order 66

This command was a lot more interesting when Messenger's backend accepted arbitrary hex values for the group color, but it can still enumerate through all of the whitelisted colors in the palette.

physics hit the lights

This one can be pretty spammy (and can also get the Facebook account that the bot is using temporarily or permanently banned, speaking from experience). It is configurable in config.js.

physics wake up

Lastly, the random message command will get a random message from the current conversation, but it is quite finnicky on Facebook's end, so YMMV.

physics random message

Under the Hood

At the highest level, the bot listens to a stream of messages, calling the handleMessage function when one is received. This function has two main tasks: (1) parse the message to determine which (more specific) handler function it should be passed to and (2) update the information associated with the group in memory. These tasks are performed in parallel, and if no information is currently stored about the thread, it is initialized in the database.

There are three main types of messages to handle: pings, Easter eggs, and commands. All of the associated handling functions (handlePings, handleEasterEggs, and handleCommand) are available externally by requiring the index module. If a message contains a ping, the named member(s) will be notified in a private message thread with the bot. Easter eggs are a set of hidden responses from the bot that can be configured in easter.js. These are off by default. Commands are the main feature of the bot and comprise the majority of its codebase.

The bot's command structure is "context-free"; it doesn't care where in the message the trigger word is used and what comes before it -- as a result, only the text following the trigger word is passed to the handleCommand. The user ID of the sender, the groupInfo object for the thread, and the full message object from the listener are also passed.

The groupInfo object is a record of the information stored in the database for a given thread, and it is passed to most utility functions used in index.js by handleCommand. Its structure changes with the internals of Facebook's message representation and the facebook-chat-api's parsing of it, but it is currently represented as follows:

let groupInfo = {
    // Thread's ID (used by facebook-chat-api)
    "threadId": string,
    // Last message received in the thread
    "lastMessage": facebook_chat_api.messageObj,
    // Name of the chat (if it exists), or the names of its members separated by '/'
    "name": string,
    // The current thread emoji
    "emoji": string,
    // The current thread color (as a hex string)
    "color": string,
    // A map from user IDs to nicknames
    "nicknames": {string: string},
    // An array of user IDs representing the admins of the group
    "admins": [string],
    // Whether the chat has Easter eggs muted (true by default)
    "muted": bool,
    // A map from user IDs to stored Spotify playlist objects, which have these props:
    // name, id, user, uri
    "playlists": {string: playlistObj},
    // A map from user IDs to name aliases (which can be used in commands)
    "aliases": {string: string},
    // A flag that records whether the thread is a group
    "isGroup": bool,
    // A map from first names of thread members to user IDs
    "members": {string: string},
    // A map from user IDs to first names of thread members
    "names": {string: string},
    // A regular expression that matches first names and aliases of members in the thread
    "userRegExp": string
}