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This article was published on April 12, 2016

With all the hype on Messenger, what is Facebook good for anymore?

With all the hype on Messenger, what is Facebook good for anymore?

Facebook’s F8 Conference used to be that time of year when users brace for the inevitable site redesign – instead, Facebook has focused its attention on its now-fastest growing product: Messenger.

The opening keynote blew past some of Facebook’s new tools, such as Quotes sharing and Save button, and spent the majority of the time on Messenger Platform and Bot Engine.

With Messenger and WhatsApp now processing three times the number of SMS sent globally, it’s no surprise that Facebook understands messaging is where its original users have migrated.

After all, these users are sharing less than they ever did – why bother posting a link on your friend’s wall and tag all relevant parties when you can send it via Messenger and have your own private conversation filled with GIFs and stickers? Why upload pictures to Facebook when you’ve got a political rant-less feed called Instagram?

Facebook Messenger scan

With chatbots on Messenger Platform, you’ll use the Messenger for more than just interacting with friends. You can hit it up when you’re hungry for Chinese takeout, need to call an Uber, or desperately needing flowers to apologize to your lover. You can message your favorite news sources for daily digests catered to your interests, or contact a store when your order is delayed. You can send money to friends after a group dinner.

All of this doesn’t even require a Facebook account.

These consumption trends are similar to what messaging apps in Asia have done for years. You can go shopping or book appointments straight from WeChat and Line, and those services only require an email address or phone number to join.

If you can soon do everything on Facebook through Messenger, then what is it even for anymore? 360-degree videos and Instant Articles are cool, but so are YouTube and Google AMP.

As users flock to Messenger over Facebook, or to other social networks and messaging apps, all that’s left behind are glimpses of our internet existence from years past. Unless Facebook starts innovating some original features on the site itself, it could slowly become just a catalogue of consumers for online marketers to study and target with new ads or products.

Or who knows, maybe bots will make us miss genuine human interactions and send users back to sharing things and having public conversations like the old days. In light of recent online privacy scares, that seems unlikely – but man, can you imagine?

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