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Facebook is planning to open Messenger to publishers at F8 in April, reports Marketing Land. The report mentions that the company will launch with a few participating publishers, although these were not named.

There is precedent to this move; Facebook and German tabloid Bild had started testing delivering news via Messenger in January this year. The messages were delivered as hyperlinks to users, led by the title and information about the post. Users can sign up for the feature, however, the company did not reveal the number of users.

Note that in August, Facebook announced the testing of a new personal assistant service called M, powered by artificial intelligence and supervised by humans. The company claimed the assistant would be able to purchase items, get gifts delivered, book restaurants and travel arrangements, set appointments etc. and in January, launched an unannounced chat SDK to let developers build “bots” in Messenger for shopping, booking travel etc.

In December Facebook started allowing its users to get a Uber cab from Messenger itself. At the time, the service was available only to 10,000 users in the San Francisco Bay area, with plans for rolling it out to other users.

800M active users: In January, Facebook said that Messenger had crossed 800 million active monthly users, inching closer to the Facebook-owned WhatsApp messenger’s 900 million active monthly users. Messenger was released as a standalone app for web in 2014. The company has plans to make money through ads on Messenger but does not provide a timeline for the same.

Other players: Earlier this month BBC said it would use chat applications Viber and WhatsApp to publish its documentaries. BBC World News would publish posts via a BBC public channel in the app. These posts would be delivered to Viber users across a week, replicating the timeline of the original events as told by the victims.

Hike Messenger, which recently crossed 100 million users, started aggregating Hindi news stories in September, and had said then that it would roll out this feature for other regional languages as well. The messenger initially launched the News feature in August in English, aggregating stories from various leading dailies.

Messenger developments:

– Facebook had launched a revamped version of its Messenger app, allowing users to sign up even without a Facebook account way back in 2012, a service it re-launched in June 2015 to allow users sign up with only a phone number.

– In June, Messenger introduced location sharing on Messenger, where users could send a map of their whereabouts, accessible from the ‘More’ icon.

– During its F8 conference in March, Facebook said that it would be opening up Messenger for business, allowing companies to chat with people during the checkout flow, send order updates etc. It also added that it would let developers develop apps for Messenger, starting with 40 new apps including Imgur, ESPN and Talking Tom.

– In the same month, the company added a video calling feature in Messenger and at that time was limited to iOS and Android users in the US, UK, Mexico, Oman, Laos, Uruguay and some other European countries, but rolled out internationally eventually.

– In November, Facebook launched an Android messenger app called Work Chat to allow co-workers to message individually and in group chats, share pictures, videos, stickers and make voice calls. Facebook at Work had been in private testing since January 2015 and allowed employers to create separate log-ins for staff.

– Facebook had also added voice calling feature on its Android Messenger for users in India in March 2014, a year after it was launched in the US on both Android and iOS. Messenger was previously colloquially called Facebook chat and was within the social network.

Image Credit: Janitors under CC BY 2.0