Facebook appears to be exploiting WhatsApps expertise in the instant messaging world

Facebook adds WhatsApp-like feature to Messenger

Facebook has updated its Messenger app for iPhone, the first major software tweak since buying messaging service WhatsApp.

Users can now create and manage groups of contacts, tapping on any one of them to send out a message to everyone in that group and users can assign a name and photo to a group, creating a range of different social circles.

A second new feature is the ability to forward messages, in much the same way as over email, just by tapping on a message.

Following the $19bn (£11.4bn) acquisition of WhatsApp, both sides maintained it would continue to operate independently, but the software changes appear to be the first sign of the social network taking advantage of the service's expertise in the instant messaging world.

At the time of the acquisition, Facebook founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg said: "WhatsApp is on a path to connect one billion people. The services that reach that milestone are all incredibly valuable."

The update comes just a day after Twitter overhauled its photo settings, now allowing users to tag friends in pictures as well as post more than one at a time. Both are features Facebook has supported for years.

Facebook still leads the way in terms of users, with more than one billion as of March 2013. Twitter has less than 250 million active users and recently saw photo-sharing service Instagram overtake it in active users in the USA.

The social network war has continued to heat up this week after Twitter also announced yesterday that the company is partnering with music publication Billboard to create new live music chart based on songs and artists people tweet about.

The chart will appear several times a week on the Billboard website as well as the social network and Twitter hopes it will help unknown artists get discovered, boosting their user activity in the process.

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