eFacebook has finally taken the first step towards integrating its messaging services. The company will now allow you to message your contacts across Messenger and Instagram from any of the apps.
You’ll be able to send messages or initiate video calls with your contacts using either app. Plus, the company is introducing features to let you watch videos from Facebook Watch and IGTV with Reels being added soon.
In a blog post, the company said people using Instagram can choose not to opt-in to this experience for now:
More than a billion people already use Messenger as a place to share, hang out, and express themselves with family and friends. That’s why we’re connecting the Messenger and Instagram experience to bring some of the best Messenger features to Instagram – so you have access to the best messaging experience, no matter which app you use. People on Instagram can decide whether to update immediately to this new experience.
However, it provided no clarity if users will be forced to make this choice later on. It’s also not clear if people using Messenger can opt-out of the integration.
There’s natural concern regarding data sharing and privacy, given it’s handled by Facebook. The company says it will “collect information from Instagram and Messenger primarily to provide the service, improve the product experience, and keep people safe and secure.” It’s important to note that neither Messenger nor Instagram DMs is protected by end-to-end encryption by default.
Plus, you’ll have controls to restrict, who can message you, and whose messages go to the request folder. You can also choose if you don’t want a certain set of people to not reach you at all.
However, blocking accounts is a bit complicated. The block applies to only that particular platform and account. You would need to add your Instagram and Facebook account to the account center to see accounts of people you’ve blocked on both platforms. The privacy controls are already confusing, and this layer of integration might throw off a lot of people.
Along with this, the company is also introducing “Vanish mode” for disappearing messages, Boomerang-like “Selfie Stickers,” personalized emoji reactions, chat threads, and themes.
Facebook says these features are rolling out to select countries now, and the company will expand them globally soon.
Last year Mark Zuckerberg expressed his intention to integrate all messaging services under a silo of privacy. Now, that Messenger and Instagram are already merged, WhatsApp is the missing piece in the puzzle. However, it might prove tricky for Zuckerberg and Co. to integrate the encrypted messaging service with its non-encrypted peers.
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Published September 30, 2020 — 12:35 UTC