Odds are, your friends and family are already hanging out on Facebook. That’s why it makes perfect sense to use Facebook Messenger to communicate with them. Like most things in our digital lives, there aren’t any manuals detailing how to use Messenger. Tech companies assume you’ll jump on the bandwagon and figure it out.
To help you go from novice to pro, here are three Facebook Messenger tricks you’re probably not using. (Note: Messenger does not work the same across all devices and operating systems. If something isn’t located in the menus precisely as I say, look around for a similar action. And be sure you have the latest version of the Messenger app on your iOS or Android device.)
MAKE A GROUP DECISION BY TAKING A VOTE
How often have you gone back and forth in texts with a group about where to meet for dinner, which day is better for a gathering, what time or activity is best, and more?
When faced with a bunch of people having to agree on a decision, start a group conversation in Messenger on your iOS or Android device. Then, take a vote.
Facebook now lets you conduct polls in Messenger. Tap Polls when composing a message or tap More and select Poll. Compose the question along with possible answers and press Submit. Your poll will appear in the Messenger conversation and people in the group will be asked to vote for his or her choice. The most popular answer wins. Problem solved.
When it comes time to pay for an activity, Messenger can help. Type a phrase like “You owe me $25 for the split check,” and Messenger will take you to a payment page. Both parties need to have a debit card saved in Messenger. You enter this information in the More, and then Payments. Facebook is rolling out a change to this, and you may have it already. New chat bots look for certain things such as “IOU.” When it is detected, a payment is requested and taken directly in the conversation feed.
SEND AND RECEIVE SECRET MESSAGES
Encryption is an extremely secure way to protect your conversations from being heard or seen by anyone but you. In simplistic terms, it’s a method that scrambles your conversation, so if a hacker intercepts the data, they do not see anything but gibberish.
End-to-end encryption means the encryption extends from one end of the communication pathway to the other. It doesn’t offer hackers a point to tap in and steal an unencrypted version of the message.
The end-to-end encryption feature in the Messenger app is the same service used in the Facebook-owned Whatsapp. Theoretically, this makes it impossible for hackers, the government, telecoms and even Facebook itself to read these conversations.
Only the sender and recipient can see the messages and only on one device of their choosing. However, to use Messenger’s end-to-end encryption feature, you first must turn it on. They call it “Secret Conversations.”
Once enabled, you can also make your message disappear at a specific time and choose how long your message will last before it disappears. Always remember, nothing ever disappears. Anyone can take a screenshot of your secret conversations.
Open Messenger and tap the Me icon. Tap Secret Conversations. Here’s where the similarity between using this Messenger feature on Apple and Android devices ends.
PLAY GAMES WITH FRIENDS
Instead of playing an online game alone, challenge a friend or family member to a game of chess, basketball or soccer. It’s fun!
For chess, choose the friend you’d like to challenge. Type “@fbchess play” to get started. At the bottom and top of the board, you’ll see the letters A through H assigned to the grid. On the right- and left-hand side of the board, you’ll see the numbers one through eight.
To move, combine the letters and numbers with a piece command. Typing “@fbchess Pe4,” for example, will move your Pawn to square E4. A list of more advanced commands, such as moving your Bishops and Knights can be found by typing “@fbchess help.”
If basketball is more your game, send a friend the basketball emoji. Then, tap the basketball emoji in the chat log to start the game. Swipe up to shoot the ball. If you get frustrated, watch this YouTube video that shows you how to win using a ruler. For a soccer game, send a friend the soccer ball emoji. Tap the ball to keep it in the air.