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Facebook Messenger hits 1 billion users

The mobile chat app attains the milestone about two years after Facebook separated it from its main social network.

James Martin/CNET

Facebook on Wednesday announced that its Messenger app has hit 1 billion monthly users.

The milestone takes place two years after the social-networking giant separated the mobile chat tool from its main social-networking site as part of a sharpened focus on mobile. Now, Messenger users have to download the standalone app in order to chat on Facebook.

Facebook, the social network itself, hit the 1-billion-users mark four years ago in 2012.

The company says that Messenger is now "one of only a handful of apps worldwide that touch so many lives." It created a short video to celebrate the occasion and encourages users to send balloon emoticons in their messages.

Facebook has been busy tweaking the Messenger app in an attempt to make it more relevant to its users. For example, last month it said it's rejiggering the interface so that instead of seeing your most recent messages first, you'll see people who are currently active on the app, the day's birthdays and people who send you messages most frequently.

Also in June, Messenger introduced its own emojis. And earlier this month, Facebook said it's testing end-to-end encryption for messages that also have the ability to self-destruct after a set length of time.