Users will be able to send gifs to their favourite shops

Facebook is opening up Messenger, letting it become an independent “platform” of its own.

The new app features third-party apps — allowing users to send gifs and other kinds of posts —  as well as attempting to take on email by allowing users to communicate with shops and other companies through the platform.

The update appears to be a continuation of Facebook’s aim to keep more people on the network, wrapping up functions that used to require external tools into the site’s own offerings.

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Messenger Platform allows users to send gifs, photos, video, audio clips and more to contacts through the app. There are 40 apps already announced for the service, with Facebook indicating that there are many more to come.

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The company also announced Business on Messenger. That will allow individual Facebook users to send messages to online businesses, as well as receiving information from them about the status of their orders or delivery information.

Facebook emphasised that Messenger allows all of that information to be collected in one thread — which it says is better than email, where messages can be lost and split apart. Business on Messenger will “initially launch with a couple of partners and we hope to share more soon”, Facebook said.

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It’s unclear whether the plan for businesses will also allow users to shop on the site. Facebook introduced a payments system that allows people to send money to others through Messenger last week.

Facebook unveiled the changes at F8, its annual conference where it shows off new updates to developers. The conference runs for two days, and began with a keynote announcing the new Messenger service yesterday.

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