Facebook has taken the biggest step so far in integrating its various messaging platforms, allowing users on Messenger and Instagram to send messages between applications.
Facebook is launching cross-platform messaging, and in addition, Instagram is receiving a major overhaul of its direct messaging system, which will be expanded with features taken from Messenger.
New Instagram messaging tools include message deletion, selfie stickers, custom emoji, chat colors, new ways to block unwanted messages, and the introduction of Messenger’s WatchTogether feature, which lets you watch videos with friends during a video call.
In addition to cross-platform messaging, Instagram and Messenger users can search for profiles in both apps simultaneously. Users can opt out of these features if they wish.
When and especially who will be able to benefit from this update?
It is unclear when and where cross-platform messaging will be available for Instagram and Messenger. The function is currently “tested in certain markets and will expand globally in the coming months”.
There is no public timeline as to when Facebook could begin integrating its other messaging giant, WhatsApp.
The news is part of an ambitious plan presented by Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg in 2019 for the transition of the social media empire from one based on public spaces to one with a greater emphasis on private communication.
As Zuckerberg explained in 2019, “private messaging, ephemeral stories and small groups are by far the fastest growing areas of online communication.”
By integrating messages into its various applications, each with over 1 billion users, Facebook hopes to capture as much of this market as possible.
Combining these services is a huge challenge in the infrastructure, especially for the future integration of WhatsApp, which contains end-to-end encryption.
But a bigger hurdle may come from regulators, who are cautious about Facebook’s dominance in mobile messaging.
Following Zuckerberg’s announcement of his ambition to integrate Instagram, WhatsApp and Messenger messaging in 2019, Facebook co-founder Chris Hughes called for the company to be split into several smaller companies.
Hughes argued that Facebook has become a monopoly on social media, with users unable to switch to any viable competitor. A number of prominent American politicians, including current Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden, have been the subject of these concerns.
Facebook is currently conducting antitrust investigations in both the US and the EU, with Zuckerberg testifying before the FTC just last month.