TORONTO – Facebook Messenger has garnered over 500 million downloads from the Google Play Store, despite widespread user backlash over the social network forcing users to download the standalone app.
This makes Messenger one of the few apps to reach the 500 million download mark.
Google’s own Gmail and YouTube apps, instant messaging service WhatsApp and Facebook’s primary app are the only other Android apps to have reached the milestone.
Concerns surrounding the app became a hot topic last month thanks to the extensive number of permissions included in the app, many of which included seemingly invasive language.
However, most of the negative reviews appear to stem from Facebook’s decision to disable the ability to send private messages through its mobile app, forcing users to download the standalone Messenger app – a move the social networking giant has yet to explain.
Users began seeing notifications warning them of the switch last month and many have already been forced to switch.
Messenger has maintained its top spot on the “Top Free” list in the Google Play Store for nearly two weeks.
Despite its 4/5 star rating in the Play Store, many of its most recent reviews give the app only one star as users slam Facebook for forcing them to download the secondary app.
“This app is simply useless. I rarely use chat feature in Facebook but I am forced to download this app when I was happy with previous in-built messenger,” wrote one user.
“I shouldn’t be forced to download a standalone app for something that’s in the base app. It literally serves no purpose and lacks basic functionality at that. I cannot fathom the words to describe how much I loathe what happened to FB mobile,” said another.
While it’s up to the user to decide if they want to install the app and continue using Facebook’s messaging service, there is one trick you can try to get around downloading the app: use your smartphone’s web browser to send messages through the Facebook mobile website.