You no longer need a Facebook account in order to exchange instant messages with your contacts through the Facebook Messenger service. By dropping the Facebook account requirement, the social network hopes to bring in even more people under the Messenger fold.
By last count, Messenger had 700 million active users, approaching the 800 million user base of WhatsApp, a wildly popular messaging service Facebook acquired for a staggering $19 billion.
According to Facebook, people who sign up for Messenger through their phone number will gain the same functionality as those who have registered for the service with their Facebook account, including photos, videos, group chats, voice and video calling, stickers and more.
New users will be now greeted with a prompt offering to sign up either with a Facebook account or a phone number. Just tap the “Not on Facebook?” button to get started.
You will then be able to sign up with your name, phone number and a photo. Optionally, you can choose to sync your phone contacts with Messenger, which lets you easily message people saved as your phone contacts.
Signing up with a phone number lets you message others who use Messenger with a phone number, as well as those who signed up with a Facebook account.
However, people using Messenger with their Facebook account can also access their Facebook messages and take advantage of multi-device messaging across mobile devices, the web and tablets, which is off limits to those who signed up with a phone number.
Signing up with a phone number is rolling out to users in the United States, Canada, Peru and Venezuela, with more markets to be added at a later stage.