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Facebook Messenger: 5 things you didn’t know you could do

The pandemic has led to more virtual communication than at any time in history. Whether you’re attending a work meeting or witnessing a friend’s wedding, you can do so digitally.

Facebook Messenger allows you to make phone calls, chat over video or send and receive texts. However, there are some privacy concerns to worry about. Tap or click here for a quick way to secure Messenger. Even with the risks, chances are you know people who use Messenger and it’s a super convenient way to keep in touch.

Messenger has gone through many updates, implementing features that add convenience and fun to your conversations. Keep reading for some of the stuff you may have been missing out on.

1. Set nicknames for contacts

When it comes to Facebook, most of us use our real names. The closest thing to a nickname you’ll find are shorter versions of full names such as Mikey, Drew, Abby, Cass, etc. This is well and good for keeping in touch on a semi-formal level, but what about more personal conversations?

Many of us use nicknames for contacts when it comes to our phones — everything from Mom to Work. You can do the same with Facebook Messenger on iOS or Android. Here’s how:

Open the Messenger app, tap on the contact name at the top of the screen, then tap Nicknames. You will see a list of everyone in the chat, including yourself. Tap the contact whose name you want to change, enter a name and tap Save if you’re using iOS, or Set if you’re on an Android device. That’s all there is to it.

Be aware if it’s a group chat, everyone in that group conversation will get a notification and see the change you made, and they can do the same.

RELATED: Tech-how to: Make phone calls to friends and family from Facebook

2. Draw on your pictures

You can send and receive photos with any social media app, but the trend now is adding embellishments such as GIFs, drawings and text. Facebook Messenger is no different.

Tap the camera button while you’re in a conversation and snap a photo. Before sending it, check out the available icons. You can tap the squiggly line icon to draw, the text icon to add text, and the smiley icon to add effects. When you’re finished, hit the send button and wait for reactions.

3. Start a group chat

Group chats are where the real fun happens. You can have separate rooms for different groups of family, friends, coworkers or anyone else. Get your buddies together for virtual happy hour and see what happens. Tap or click here for tips on managing group chats on your iPhone.

To start a group chat, tap the pen/pencil icon as you would to normally send a message. Select or type the name of the people you want to add to the group. Type an introductory message and hit send.

Group chats can get out of control with messages coming a mile a minute. Sometimes you need a break from even the most stimulating conversations and that’s where the mute function comes in.

Open the conversation and tap the group name at the top. Tap Mute then decide whether you want to mute messages, calls or both from that group. In the following prompt, tap how long you want the mute to last. You can Unmute the conversation using the same steps.

4. Find your hidden messages

Facebook has many built-in features to give you some level of privacy. When you get a message from someone you don’t know, you are usually alerted. This doesn’t always happen, however. If the message is flagged by spam, you won’t see it in your inbox.

Just as with your email, a message might get flagged even if it’s not spam. Messenger has an equivalent of a spam folder where you can view your screened messages.

To see these messages, open the Messenger app and tap on your profile picture in the upper-left corner. Tap on Message Requests to see a list of people you may know as well as a spam list.

5. Hide notification previews

You may not want your private messages popping up on your screen, especially if you’re in a rowdy group conversation. Just as you can disable notification previews for text, you can also do it for Facebook Messenger.

If you have an iPhone, tap your profile picture in the upper-left corner, then Notifications & Sounds. From here, you can toggle Show Previews on or off. The steps are the same for Android, though the option is called Notification Previews.

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