There are many reasons why someone wouldn’t want a Facebook account but still would want to use Facebook Messenger. Some users are very comfortable and have no problem using the social media portion of the platform while others would rather not. Those who would not, they still find it convenient to communicate with friends and family via Messenger.
But that is now all changing, as Facebook has quietly made it a requirement for users to link an account to Messenger. When you first sign up for the service you have the option to link an account or use your phone number. The phone number option is no longer there and the company has confirmed that this is official. Right now, it seems it only affects new users and not users who already signed up with their phone numbers.
“If you’re new to Messenger, you’ll notice that you need a Facebook account to chat with friends and close connections,” a spokesperson said via email. “We found that the vast majority of people who use Messenger already log in through Facebook and we want to simplify the process. If you already use Messenger without a Facebook account, no need to do anything.”VentureBeat
According to VentureBeat, some users who do not have accounts but are signed up using their phone numbers have reported getting messages their access is restricted. This could be a bug as existing users are not supposed to see this change at all.
The change might anticipate the forthcoming unification of Facebook’s various messaging properties, which include WhatsApp and Instagram as well as Messenger. The New York Times reported in January that the technical infrastructure underlying all three services will be integrated, potentially redefining how over three billion people around the world communicate. (WhatsApp has more than 1.5 billion active monthly users, while Messenger and Instagram have over 1.3 billion and 1 billion, respectively.)VentureBeat
Currently, you can sign up for WhatsApp using only your phone number. If the unification of Facebook properties is the goal, then this might change soon too.