(The Root) — In what seems like a continual quest for complete world domination, Facebook is testing some new changes that would allow all of the social network's billion users to make calls for free.
Canadians are the first to test out this new feature, which is part of the upgrades to Facebook's Messenger app. The phone calls will be made using VoIP technology, which is the same process currently used by Skype. This means that your phone calls get sent over the Internet, as opposed to normal cellular-telephone networks. The benefit of VoIP is that you can still make a phone call even if you're in a location where you can't get a cellular signal, as long as you have a Wi-Fi connection. The idea of "free" is relative, though, since the calls will be counted against your data plan.
The Messenger app already lets you send free text messages to your Facebook friends, and the latest update allows everyone to send free voicemails as well. You will need to install or update the app on your phone, and the people you want to communicate with also have to have the app installed. If successful in Canada, the phone-call feature will roll out to all Facebook users.
The benefit of this could be huge. Using VoIP technology can save you money if you have a decent data plan but want to cut down on the number of minutes you currently pay for. And with so many people already on Facebook anyway, the likelihood that you'll be able to easily stay in touch with most of your family and friends is pretty high.
In using Messenger, you're saving money, and with this technology, the phone calls are typically more reliable and of higher quality. So what's the downside? I wonder about the idea of being so single-threaded. We already give Facebook access to our photos, videos and thoughts — do we really want to give the social network our private conversations, too? Or does it matter, since Facebook already knows so much about us anyway? What do you think? Will you be making phone calls on Facebook when it becomes available to you?
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