Facebook testing out 'Phone,' but this time it's an app

Facebook knows who you chat with via photos and text. Soon, it may have insight in more voice conversations

The much-hyped Facebook phone turned out to be a weak device that no one wanted to buy in 2013. But Phone by Facebook could become an app that anyone who deals with constant spam calls might fall in love with.

Facebook is testing an app that “shows you info about who’s calling and automatically blocks calls from commonly blocked numbers,” according to a screenshot of a message sent to some users inviting them to test drive the app, posted by news website AndroidPolice Friday afternoon.

The description and name suggest that Phone would be a replacement for the “dialer” pre-installed on Android phones. If and when it will be available is unclear: Facebook and other social media companies routinely test new features, some of which never end up being released.

But an app that gives Facebook information on who people call could be valuable to Facebook as it tries to further identify relationships between users. Facebook already knows who someone chats with through apps such as Messenger, Instagram and WhatsApp -- Facebook properties that have reduced the amount of traditional text-messaging many people do. The company also has an eye on who people talk to based on posts typed out on Facebook profile walls. Calling and in-person conversations remain out of view.

Facebook has 1.39 billion users and the phone numbers for many of them, plus phone numbers for millions of businesses worldwide.

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