Facebook rolls out pared down Messenger app for emerging markets

October 3, 2016 2:02 AM EDT

The Facebook logo and emoticons are seen on a coffee mug at the reception of its new office in Mumbai, India May 27, 2016. REUTERS/Shailesh Andrade

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By Yasmeen Abutaleb

SAN FRANCISCO(Reuters) - Facebook Inc launched a stripped down version of its popular Messenger app for emerging markets on Monday as it seeks to expand its international footprint.

Messenger Lite, which uses less data and is designed to work in areas with slower internet connections, will roll out in Kenya, Tunisia, Malaysia, Sri Lanka and Venezuela. Facebook said it will expand to other countries in the coming months.

Facebook has largely saturated Western markets, including North America and Europe, and has set its sights on developing countries, in part by rolling out "lite" versions of its main Facebook app and now Messenger, which have fewer capabilities than the main apps.

Users with Android phones will still be able to use the core features of Messenger, including the ability to send text messages, photos and links but will not be able to make video or voice calls or make payments.

"We want to make sure Messenger products are truly for everyone," David Marcus, head of Messenger, said in an interview.

Facebook also offers a pared-down version of the internet in more than three dozen countries, called Free Basics, to connect people to the internet who do not have a reliable connection.

Chief Executive Officer Mark Zuckerberg has repeatedly said the company's mission is to get everyone in the world connected to the internet.

(Reporting By Yasmeen Abutaleb)

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