Problem: Fake obscure names are being generated for anonymous users

  • 25 April 2024
  • 8 replies

I have a question regarding how the frontChatChannel cookie is associated with previous session. Let me describe the weird behavior of Front’s chat bot on our website. See the steps described below. 

  1. I navigate our webapp’s /login url as a logged out user, then locate frontChatChannel cookie and remove it for the domain. 
  2. I assume since there’s now no cookie/token, there’s also no association with prior user session, so the Front chat bot won’t recognize my user’s identity. 
  3. Now, I click the chat’s icon, and observe that there are some options to pick from before getting to the text input. 
  4. I clicked “Login & Access” option, and saw “How can we help” question with a text area. Observe that no email is being asked. 
  5. My message was received via Slack notification and Frontapp as well, and I’ve got this auto-generated name: Salmon Boa
  • Can we change this anywhere so the generated names for anonymous users aren’t such as Salmon Boa, Navy Antelope, Coral Alligator, etc? We see these a lot and it’s always an animal theme. Note that sometimes these fake names are generated for users who navigated pages that are seen for logged in users only, so I wonder why the fake names would be generated for them.
  • Could you explain to me how frontChatChannel and user sessions work? I didn’t see in our code that we clear Frontchat’s session anywhere as follows: FrontChat('shutdown', {clearSession: true});


See screenshots attached



Best answer by justin 25 April 2024, 18:17

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8 replies

I could verify the name issue as a logged in user as well, it has to do something with how the cookie frontChatChannel is associated with user session. In my case I was just clearing cookie or using an incognito browser window every time.


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Justin here with the support engineering team 👋

Your observation with the Front Chat cookie is correct here. Deleting the cookie is essentially what occurs when calling clearSession. This cookie and session is what enables Front Chat to identify a current user session. 

In regards to the anonymous user names, this can be changed by providing identity or having a step in your chatbot to collect a name. Without a name or identity, the anonymous name you are seeing will be established by default. 

Thanks for response, @justin. Could you explain to me how the logged in user could endup in this state in Front’s chat? I was deliberately removing the frontChatChannel cookie to test, to reproduce the problem, but the real users wouldn’t do that. I assume it would happen if they logged in an incognito browser window, or used a completely new browser. 


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Thanks for the update! 

Could you clarify what you are seeing occur with the “real users”? Is this a user that is using verified identity and then the cookie is deleted?

Front Chat cookies are associated with the chat session and clearing any previously supplied identity information will result in any additional initialization calls starting a fresh conversation.

Yes, I was testing as a real user with the cookie deleted, but I’m not sure how our customers ended up in that state - so we can see the ones with fake names but we could link them to existing customers because they came from a URL which was generated for them uniquely (they submit inquiries which get a unique id, and they could navigate those urls while being logged in only). 

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Thanks for clarifying!

With the vast number of browser extensions, it’s possible that a user could have blocked or erased the cookie, interfering with the session. It’s hard to state exactly what happened without the reproducible steps on the client side. 

Depending on when their info was entered and their course of history, it sounds like this was an instance where a user was identified and then the session was cleared. While not a common occurrence, it could happen and is dependent upon that user’s session. 

Thanks, and last question, if we add the name to the flow, will this field be hidden once the user could be identified? I want to make sure that it won’t always show. 

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 When collecting contact details via the chatbot, if an existing contact matches the information provided, the conversation will be associated with that contact. Otherwise, a new contact will be created with the information provided.

If the chat visitor’s identity is already being verified via the Front Chat SDK, chat visitors will not have to fill out the name step.