On Monday, SMS turned 20 years old. It changed the way we communicate with each other forever. At the same time, SMS ended up costing the public a ton of money once cell phone carriers started charging a premium for it. Thanks to connected technologies, sending and receiving text messages can be free. Facebook is hoping to become a major facilitator of free text messages by allowing anyone to use its Messenger app by providing their name and phone number.
Beginning today, the new sign-up process for Messenger on Android does not require a Facebook account. After providing a name and number, the app will automatically scan through the contacts of the device it’s installed on. From there, users will be able to send messages and photos to their contacts without any carrier involvement.
Some people may be apprehensive about providing “big bad Facebook” with something as personal as their cell phone number. However, using Messenger to avoid SMS and MMS charges may be worth the apparent risk.
The option to sign-up for Messenger independent of Facebook should become available to everyone in the weeks ahead. There’s no set date for when iOS users will be able to participate.