Facebook app will let users make free Internet calls

January 4, 2013 9:18:49 PM PST
Facebook is getting into the phone business -- sort of. The social network has become the place to share your thoughts, your photos, and now your voice.

Facebook's Messenger app has been around for a while but it never really did anything you couldn't also do with the regular Facebook app -- until now.

"Hey Alex, I'm just using the new Facebook Messenger app function," Cnet writer Donna Tam said.

Instead of typing, Tam is sending a Facebook message by recording her voice.

"So it's like really easy to record a voicemail and send it; it's also really easy to mess up a voicemail and accidentally send it, I mean it's so easy to do that," Tam said.

It's a novelty some users said they would have fun with, but the even bigger news is a feature Facebook claims it's rolling out over the next few weeks: free Internet phone calls made right through the app. It's already available for users in Canada.

"You can comment, connect with any of your Facebook friends, you don't need their number then... I think a lot of people would find value in that," Tam said.

Some Facebook users were slow to warm up to the idea of making phone calls through a social network. For some of them, the biggest concern was privacy.

"I've become friends with people I've met, but sometimes I'm not really close to, so I don't really want them to contact me unless I actually give them my phone number," Jennyrose Jalique said.

"I'd certainly hope there'd be some privacy settings where I could control how easily people could call me if they had Facebook," Hasnain Zaidi said.

But even those users saw the value in it.

"What I might use it for though is international calls because those tend to be more expensive," Zaidi said. "I use Skype a lot to make international phone calls."

The possibility of replacing Skype, just like Facebook has replaced chat rooms, and in some cases email -- all part of founder Mark Zuckerberg's vision.

"I think Facebook is all about communication and they keep saying we want to connect people, that's a really big thing for them," Tam said. "I mean here's a way to connect people and they want people to use their app for everything, they want to be the communication network for people."


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