The integration, part of the parent company’s strategy to more tightly unite its apps, will imbue Instagram messaging with Messenger-like features. The experience packs in more than 10 new features, according to a blog post by the heads of Instagram and Messenger, Adam Mosseri and Stan Chudnovsky, respectively.
“Selfie stickers are a unique hybrid of Boomerang, emojis and selfies — and a new way to react to conversations. Watch Together lets you watch trending videos with friends on IGTV during a video call,” they wrote. “We’re also introducing vanish mode, where you can set messages to automatically disappear after they’re seen.”
Other Messenger features coming to Instagram include replying to a specific message, forwarding messages and customizing chat colors and themes.
What the update doesn’t do is create a universal inbox across the apps — both apps continue to house their own direct messages — and neither does it include WhatsApp, at least at this time. Bringing Facebook’s other chat app into the fold is trickier, as WhatsApp features end-to-end encryption. But the company is working on it to make messaging more seamless across all of its apps.
Without encryption, though, some privacy pundits may worry that the cross-platform integration will make message contents more open to use for things like Facebook ad-targeting. And considering people send more than 100 billion messages across the company’s apps, according to Facebook’s numbers, the opportunity seems massive.
As it is, in its current form, the cross-platform integration aims to cover as many people as possible. Users on Messenger and Instagram can reach each other, even if they’re not signed up for the other service.
Facebook also developed other built-in privacy control settings in its new Accounts Center, including an opt-out option, for users who don’t want to chat across apps. The settings also let users choose who can or can’t appear in their main Chats list, fine-tuning who gets shuttled off to the Message Request folder or gets blocked. Here, they can also control other features that work across apps, including Single Sign On and Facebook Pay.
The functionality also allows Instagram users to block and report full chats, and not just individual messages or calls. They’ll also get Messenger’s “Safety Notices” feature, so they can identify and respond to suspicious activity, starting with minors’ accounts.
The change represents another step in Facebook’s move to break down the walls between its apps, which has become a priority for the company.
But it’s consolidating its platforms — several of which were acquired, not grown — at a time when the company is being scrutinized for being too big and wielding too much influence in the tech sector. And that makes the update look like a sign that the social media giant is not afraid of regulators.