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Mobile

Great, now Facebook wants to put ads in Messenger

The social media giant is working on another way to put ads in front of eyeballs, this time taking to its IM app.

Claudia Cruz/CNET
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The ads appear as a "sponsored" section.

Facebook

The last thing I want to see before messaging my buddies is an ad. But that's exactly what could happen to Facebook Messenger's 1 billion users.

The social network is now testing ads on the Messenger home screen, right below your conversations with your bffs (you'll have to scroll down to see it). For you, that's another ad to gloss over. For Facebook, it's an opportunity for huge profits.

Testing new features and revenue models is part of Facebook's DNA (Facebook Stories being a recent example), but sponsored content can be a double-edged sword. This year Google had to take down 1.7 billion "bad ads" and both companies have taken heat for the fake news phenom​enon, some of which was caused by sponsored content with misleading titles.

The first Messenger test ads will arrive for chatters in Australia and Thailand in the coming weeks. Facebook reassures people that businesses won't be able to talk to you unless you initiate the conversation, so don't worry about your app being filled with chatty spam just yet.

Also, Messenger users will have the option to get rid of them. Just go to the drop-down menu and choose to hide or report the specific ad. Reporting/hiding an ad works just like it does on the regular Facebook platform: it will make that ad disappear forever, but it will be replaced by another one.

Facebook says that it will examine the data it gleans from this test before deciding whether to expand the ads to the rest of the world. If you don't have Messenger ads yet, enjoy the peace and quiet.

Update, January 26, 2:30 p.m. PT: Revised info to make it clear that the ads do not appear in the conversations themselves, but just the home screen.