You cannot sign up for FB Messenger without a Facebook account any more
Facebook has updated its Help Centre page to reflect this change and has clarified that you will need to create a Facebook account to use Messenger
If you do not have a Facebook account you cannot sign up to use Facebook Messenger. Earlier, it was possible to sign up on Messenger using your phone number and you did not need a Facebook account for this. This allowed people to sign up easily and chat with friends on this messaging platform.
However, Facebook has decided to do away with that option and now you need to have a Facebook account to be able to sign up on Messenger. Facebook has updated its Help Center page to reflect this change where it clarifies what needs to be done.
"We found that the vast majority of people who use Messenger already log in through Facebook and we want to simplify the process. If you already use Messenger without a Facebook account, no need to do anything," a Facebook spokesperson told VentureBeat via email.
If this explanation is anything to go by, if you are already on Messenger and you signed up with your phone number, it is ok. The change in question is for new users who want to sign up.
The new policy seems to be a step towards integrating WhatsApp, Facebook Messenger and Instagram Messaging - something the company announced earlier this year. Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg has written a detailed post on his personal page explaining that "the company wants to make it possible for its users to send messages to their contacts using any of its services". The eventual goal for Facebook is to extend the interoperability to SMS too.
Facebook and Facebook Messenger are the two most downloaded apps of the decade, according to a report by App Annie. And going by that, asking people to sign up for Facebook first, before you can use Messenger seems to be a smart way to start integrating all of Facebook's apps.