Instagram’s inevitable absorption into Facebook continues, with users beginning to see notifications that Instagram messaging is now merging with Facebook Messenger. It’s the latest step in a strategy Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg has apparently been focused on since 2019 or even earlier, bringing together the various apps the company operates with a single, unified backend.
For the user, it’s believed, things would look relatively unchanged – and operate in the same way – compared to how they do currently. Unification, though, would allow Facebook to switch on cross-app encryption, however. It would also make its various services stickier to users, and might encourage more use of Facebook from Instagram users, and vice-versa.
We saw further evidence of that encouragement to try more Facebook group services late in 2019, when the social network began mandating that Facebook Messenger users would need to have a Facebook account. Before that, new sign-ups could register simply with their phone number, rather than create a full account on the platform.
Now, some of the first visible signs of the tighter integration are rolling out. Some users in the US found notifications when they opened Instagram, The Verge reports, which explained that it would now be possible to switch direct messaging in the service over to Facebook Messenger.
“There’s a New Way to Message on Instagram,” the notification explains. “New colorful look for your chats. React with any emoji. Swipe to reply to messages. Chat with friends who use Facebook.”
Currently, it’s possible to delay the update, and choose “not now” instead. However even then you could receive message requests from Facebook accounts in Instagram. If you do choose to update, the arrow-like DM icon in the upper right corner of the Instagram UI switches to the Facebook Messenger icon.
There was considerable push-back when Facebook announced the merging intention in early 2019, a move which is seen to be just as strategic for the business as it is focused on safety and privacy. One suspicion is that Facebook fears attempts to break the company up, amid concerns that it is simply too prevalent a source for news – and misinformation – among its billion-plus users. US Democrat Sen. Elizabeth Warren is one of several who has called for Facebook to be split up, in part to avoid further attempts to sway the American electorate as took place in the contentious 2016 election.
For users, it’s unclear just how long you’ll be able to keep hitting the “not now” button and delay the merge.