Facebook has taken the biggest step so far in integrating its various messaging platforms, allowing select Messenger and Instagram users to send messages to each other. In addition to launching cross-platform messaging, Instagram is also overhauling its DM system, which will be expanded with features taken from Messenger.
New Instagram messaging tools include disappearing messages, selfie stickers, personalized emoticons, chat colors, new ways to block spam, and the introduction of Messenger’s Watch Together, which lets you watch videos with friends during a video call.
Users will be able to decline the update if they choose, but Facebook will no doubt bet that access to new features will encourage them to say yes. In addition to messaging across platforms, Instagram and Messenger users can also search for accounts in both apps at the same time. Users can opt out of these features if they wish.
It is not clear exactly when and where different Instagram and Messenger messaging platforms will be available. According to CNN, the feature is currently “being tested in selected markets and will be expanded worldwide in the coming months.”
The news is part of an ambitious plan outlined by Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg in 2019 to move his social media empire from one based on public spaces to one with a greater focus on private communication. As Zuckerberg explained in 2019, “private messaging, ephemeral stories and small groups are the fastest growing areas of online communication.” By integrating messaging into its various applications, each with more than 1 billion users, Facebook hopes to capture as much of this market as possible.
Past steps included launching a small business app that allows them to manage pages and accounts on Facebook, Messenger and Instagram, and a new Account Center tool that allows anyone to control their login information in various Facebook properties.
Combining these services is a huge infrastructural challenge, especially for the upcoming integration of WhatsApp, which is encrypted from end to end. But a bigger hurdle may come from regulators, who are wary of Facebook’s dominance in mobile communications.
Following Zuckerberg’s announcement of his ambition to integrate Instagram, WhatsApp and Messenger messages in 2019, Facebook co-founder Chris Hughes called for the company to be split. Hughes claims that Facebook has become a monopoly on social media, with users unable to switch to viable competitors. A number of prominent American politicians, including current Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden, have reiterated these fears. Facebook is currently undergoing antitrust investigations in both the United States and the EU, with Zuckerberg testifying before the FTC just last month.