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Facebook takes the Facebook out of Messenger to grab more users

Now you don't even need to sign up for Facebook to get access to one of its fastest growing apps (and potential revenue streams).


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Pretty soon, Facebook Messenger might simply be known as "Messenger."

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That's because the world's largest social network announced on Wednesday that users in select countries can access the popular mobile app even if they don't have a Facebook account.

The Menlo Park, Calif.-based company is in the process of rolling out an updated version of Messenger with all of its features (from group chats and video calling to sharing photos and "stickers") to be available to anyone with a phone number.

Smartphone users who fall into this category can access Messenger through a new option on the landing page by clicking on "Not on Facebook?" and then sign up with his or her name, photo and phone number.

The move might come as a surprise to some given Facebook has already attracted more than 1.44 billion users worldwide to its platform -- 1.25 billion of which are monthly mobile users.

But as demonstrated by Wall Street reactions to quarterly earnings reports by Facebook and its social media brethren (just look at Twitter), user growth is often regarded as the most important metric in this vertical these days.

The multi-billion dollar acquisition of Whatsapp last year was much regarded as just such a user grab ploy.

That said, it's no surprise Facebook would want to ramp up usage of its standalone Messenger app, arguably the strongest and fastest growing in the social conglomerate's portfolio.

Facebook is regularly paying attention to the Messenger team, bolstering the app with peer-to-peer payments in March and then location sharing (not-so-coincidentally one of the most popular functions on Whatsapp) in June.

Phone number-only access to Facebook Messenger is now available across the United States, Canada, Peru and Venezuela.

Image via Facebook