The social networking giant is removing its popular chat feature from the main Facebook app, effectively forcing users to use Facebook's separate Messenger app.
Users on smartphones worldwide will have to download Messenger in the next few days, or be cut off from one of Facebook's most popular features.
Once the update is rolled out, the main Facebook app will only notify users of messages received in the Messenger app. The core app will otherwise function as normal, and does not require Messenger unless you want to use chat.
Facebook says the separate messaging app will boost speed, performance and reliability across both apps. The company also claims that current users reply around 20% faster on Messenger compared with Facebook. While plans for the Messenger app were announced in April this year, the update had up until now been limited to a handful of mostly European countries, with no specific global timeframe.
Facebook claims the dedicated Messenger app already has a user base of more than 200 million active logins per month. However, this is a small portion of the total 1.1 billion people who access Facebook on a mobile device every month.
Users unhappy with the mandatory move have taken to social media to vent frustrations about having to use two separate apps to access the same service. As well as inconvenience, users are also questioning the negative impact this will have on the speed and battery life of their mobile devices.
According to a report on the Huffington Post, Messenger's terms of service include permissions that raise serious questions about the privacy of users' personal information. Users will need to agree to new terms and conditions after installing the Messenger app before being able to use it. The report claims the user conditions give the app permission to do such things as call phone numbers or send SMS messages without user intervention.
Other potential privacy issues include the app being able to read a phone’s call log and data about contacts stored in the phone, including noting how often you communicate with those people or services. In the case of call logs, these permissions allow Messenger to save your data.