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Facebook Messenger needs a Facebook account to sign up now

You could sign up Facebook messenger with a phone number before

Facebook’s grip on Messenger became more restrictive this week. The social media giant said it requires new people who sign up for their Messenger app to connect it to their Facebook account, effectively forcing them to disclose their identities and link their interactions to their social networking profile.

Facebook made a move, previously reported by VentureBeat, because “the vast majority of people who already use Messenger log in via Facebook and we want to simplify the process,” a spokeswoman for Facebook said in a statement. For now, current Messenger accounts not connected to Facebook profiles will not need to make any changes.

In 2015, Facebook started letting people sign up with just a phone number, not a profile, for its messaging service.

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The change comes as Facebook prepares to align Messenger more closely with its photo-sharing platform Instagram and replacement service for text messages from WhatsApp. As it makes these improvements, Facebook said that it would encrypt end-to-end correspondence between the three services it controls, which ensures that only the sender and receiver should be able to view the messages.

Not only does Facebook link its three massive social networks more closely. It is also said that it plans to make conversations on its platforms progressively more private, moving to private group chats and person-to-person correspondence rather than the company’s “news feed” style of public broadcasting.

“I believe the future is private,” Facebook co-founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg said earlier this year. “This is the next chapter for our services.”

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