Social Media Facebook 123 123 people found this article helpful Facebook Messenger: Free Voice Calling and Text Messaging Streamline communication with your friends by Leslie Walker Writer Former Lifewire writer Leslie Walker is a multimedia journalism professor who covers social media, web publishing, and internet technologies. our editorial process Twitter Leslie Walker Updated on October 05, 2020 Facebook Facebook Flipboard Pinterest Twitter Snapchat Instagram YouTube Online Dating Tweet Share Email Facebook Messenger is a curious app. It's both a separate window inside the browser version of Facebook and a stand-alone mobile app. On mobile, Messenger shines as a platform for communicating with friends through text-based messaging, voice calls, and video calls. Here's an overview of how it works. How Facebook's Messenger App Works Most people use Facebook Messenger on their mobile devices. It functions similarly to most mobile-messaging services and is integrated deeply with Facebook's network graph. Messenger cannot be used through the Facebook mobile app. To use it on a mobile device, install the mobile app version of Messenger. When you open the app, you see a familiar Facebook design and a familiar way of doing things. It's your go-to app when you want to view your message history, initiate conversations, participate in group chats, play online games with friends, and make new friends on the social network. Chat histories sync between the mobile and desktop versions, providing a seamless user experience. But, that experience can vary based on the platform you use. The iOS and Android versions require slightly different permission settings and require different levels of access to the phone's core messaging utilities (like the dialer). Despite the relative integration between the Messenger app and your phone's operating system, you can always use the Messenger app to initiate Voice-over-IP calls, video chats, group text chats, and similar features. How Facebook Messenger in a Browser Works If you access Facebook via a web browser, you can see a list of your contacts on the right-hand side. Clicking on one of them brings up their Messenger chat window and thread history. Alternatively, you can select the Messenger icon on the top-right of the screen to open your message history, which is arranged in reverse chronological order. You can enter a message from that window. You also have the option to transmit stickers, send money, play games, and post photos. Select the icons at the top of the chat window to initiate a voice call using your computer's speakers and microphone, or a video call using your webcam. Facebook Messenger Pros and Cons What We Like Free and easy to use. Part of the world's largest social platform. Archive messages and personalize individual chats. What We Don't Like Privacy violations. Behind-the-scenes location tracking uses battery power. Doesn't use the same permissions as your Facebook account. After Facebook's dumpster fire of 2018, when myriad privacy and security lapses gained traction in the mainstream press, power users became skeptical of the platform and its growth-at-any-price strategy. But it hasn't deterred many others from using Messenger. The app does have its advantages. It's free and easy to use. It offers fun things like stickers and emoji, plus an easy way to chat through voice and video sessions. And, it's a convenient way to send cash to friends. And speaking of friends, you probably have a few that use Facebook and most everyone is familiar with the name, so new platform friction—the cost of asking your friends and family to migrate to the Next Big App—is non-existent. But that's the downside, too. Of all the things Messenger does, it separates itself from other messenger services. Text chatting replaces MMS. Video chatting replaces iMessages and Hangouts. Voice calls replace your phone's built-in dialer. Sending cash replaces Venmo, Paypal, and Zelle. Having all of these features in one place is convenient, but keep in mind that while you're signed in to the Facebook platform, Facebook collects data from your activities. Then, it uses this data to personalize the ads you see. From a technical perspective, Messenger is a handy Swiss-Army-knife service, capable of doing a lot of things competently, but it's not really best for any specific communication task. There are better apps optimized for specific features such as MMS, sending cash and video conferencing.