It hasn’t been long since Facebook forced users to download the Messenger app for mobile if they want to chat with their friends, because it is no longer possible to do that using the main Facebook app. That might have brought about an increase in the number of users on the Messenger app. Today the social network announced that the app now has 500 million users, that’s half a billion people around the world, using this application to stay in touch with their family and friends.

Initially there was some controversy around how Facebook essentially forced its users to download the Messenger app if they wanted to chat with their friends. In a recent Q&A session CEO Mark Zuckerberg took up this question and explained the reason behind this decision.

Updates are pushed out for the Facebook Messenger app almost every two weeks and this moment will not be slowing down. David Marcus, who runs the company’s messaging products, writes in a blog post that a lot more “innovation and updates” will be released in the coming months.

Payments is one space where many expect Facebook to expand into using the momentum it has generated with the Messenger application, but so far the company is not confirming any such plans for the future, so we’ll have to wait and see if and when that happens.

Facebook also owns WhatsApp, another instant messaging service that’s available on an even greater number of platforms and boasts some 600 million active users around the world.

Filed in Cellphones. Read more about and .

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