Facebook Messenger: Reach out to friends, contacts (podcast)

Larry Magid speaks with Facebook spokesperson Meredith Chin about the company's new Messenger product.

Facebook Messenger lets you send messages to one or more contacts. Facebook

Facebook's new standalone Messenger appfor iPhone and Android is designed to help you reach out to Facebook friends or people in your mobile contact list in what Facebook spokesperson Meredith Chin described as a "fast and easy way."

Facebook spokesperson Meredith Chin

The app can be used to reach out to a single friend or a group of friends but you have to select each member of the group individually. It doesn't support the "group" or "list" functions in Facebook that make it possible to post messages to entire groups on the Facebook Web site. It does, however, allow people who receive messages to add their friends, according to Chin. As an example, Chin (scroll down to listen to the full interview) talked about a group of people wanting to see a movie together. "You can add all these people to a conversation on Facebook Messenger," she said, "and you can coordinate in real time who's going to meet where and where you guys are sitting."

The release of Facebook Messenger comes at the same time that some British politicians are asking for the suspension of the use of BlackBerry Messenger in London because of the role BBM has reportedly played in helping coordinate rioting and looting. One concern expressed by some is that BBM messages are anonymous, password-protected, and hard to trace, With Facebook Messenger, all messages are associated with the "real name" the sender used when signing up with Facebook. The messages will only go to the people who are part of the conversation and won't be posted on your Facebook profile, according to Chin.

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