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Half a billion people now use Messenger, after Facebook forced them into it

Half a billion people now use Messenger, after Facebook forced them into it

Several months after requiring the app, some users still lament the change

Facebook's Messenger app across devices, as pictured on July 28, 2014.

Facebook's Messenger app across devices, as pictured on July 28, 2014.

Facebook's Messenger is now one of the most used mobile messaging apps in the world, with more than 500 million people logging in monthly, the company said Monday.

"This is an exciting milestone," said Peter Martinazzi, Facebook's director of product management, announcing the stat. Facebook's main app has around 1.35 billion users; Facebook-owned WhatsApp has at least 600 million users. WeChat, owned by China's Tencent, has at around 438 million users, as of this past August.

Facebook reached its milestone, however, as it angered users along the way. The company began requiring people to download Messenger for mobile chat several months ago, drawing criticism from those who didn't want to download a separate app for messages. Before that, Messenger had roughly 200 million monthly users, the company previously reported in April.

Some people still seem annoyed, or confused, about why Facebook made the change. Clarity on why Facebook forced users to download the app was one of the most popular online questions submitted in the lead up to Facebook's first public town hall meeting last week.

Facebook thought it could provide a better, faster messaging product by separating it, was CEO Mark Zuckerberg's explanation.

Not everyone sees the logic in that. "Separated app just for messages? Are you serious?" wrote one Facebook user in an online discussion thread this past weekend, who said that switching between two apps all the time to send messages and see people's profiles was not "comfortable."

Zach Miners covers social networking, search and general technology news for IDG News Service. Follow Zach on Twitter at @zachminers. Zach's e-mail address is zach_miners@idg.com

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