Facebook begins removing chat from its mobile site, nudges users toward its Messenger app

The social media company appears to be gradually moving all mobile website users to its standalone Messenger app for iOS and Android.

messenger
Credit: Derek Walter

If it wasn’t clear already, Facebook would really like it if you used its Messenger app.

TechCrunch reported Friday that the company is currently working to remove the Messenger function on the mobile version of its website, pushing users instead to use the separate Facebook Messenger app.

According to the report, tapping the chat button in the toolbar may result in a message informing you that “your conversations are moving to Messenger,” and that “soon you’ll only be able to view your messages from Messenger.” You can dismiss this notice, TechCrunch notes—at least for now.

It looks as though the push to Messenger will be in stages: When I checked Facebook via the mobile app, I got prompted to install Messenger, but I wasn’t warned that I would soon be required to use the Facebook Messenger app. According to Engadget, Facebook’s push toward Messenger for mobile website users appears to affect only Android users for now, but it’s probably only a matter of time before iOS users get forced to Messenger as well.

Of course, if any of this sounds familiar to you, it’s pretty much the same tack Facebook took when it phased out messaging in its mobile app. With that in mind, it was only a matter of time before Facebook removed messaging from its mobile site as well.

Why the push toward Messenger?

According to TechCrunch, Facebook insists that it wants users on Messenger so they can have the “best experience” while chatting with their friends. Of course, given how big a business messaging has become, it isn’t hard to see other possible motives behind the move.

For one, it gives the Facebook brand more visibility in the messaging market, and it makes Messenger the star of its own show, so to speak. (And never mind the fact that Facebook also owns the messaging behemoth WhatsApp—talk about a strong one-two punch!)

Speaking for myself, I don’t use Messenger as a primary means of communication, but I may use it one in a while if I happen to be on Facebook and I need to get in touch with someone. That probably isn’t what Facebook wants, though—the company would likely prefer for you to make Messenger your go-to chat app, period.

Facebook has a chance to make some dough off of Messenger as well, as TechCrunch points out, though ads or other monetization efforts. With that in mind, it makes perfect sense that Facebook would want you to use its Messenger app.

Is it an ideal situation for users? Not necessarily. As TechCrunch’s Devin Coldewey notes, there are plenty of good reasons for why you may want quick access to Messenger from your smartphone’s browser. Maybe you just want to quickly log into Facebook on a friend’s phone while yours is our of battery, for example.

But given Facebook’s captive audience, it’s probably safe to assume that most users will tag along with the move to Messenger, whether they want to or not.

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