We knew it was coming back in January 2019, and now it looks as though the changes are finally going public: Facebook has started inviting users to connect their Facebook Messenger and Instagram chat accounts together.
As spotted by The Verge (opens in new tab), some people are seeing a message inside Instagram on Android and iOS advertising "a new way to message" – that new way being to chat directly with contacts on Facebook as well as Instagram.
Accept the upgrade, and the direct message icon in Instagram changes from the usual paper airplane symbol to a Facebook Messenger symbol. However, it doesn't look as though the link is fully functional yet.
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Facebook hasn't said anything about the latest update, so it's not clear how many users have the option to start this process yet. However, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg has previously gone on record (opens in new tab) saying that he wants to get all the messaging apps that his company runs working together.
It's good to talk
In the past, Zuckerberg has talked about (opens in new tab) this kind of interoperability providing "privacy and security" advantages for users – though he has also insisted that the merging of WhatsApp, Facebook Messenger and Instagram direct messages would be opt-in.
The new prompt showing up in Instagram does indeed give you the option to decide to connect it to Facebook Messenger or not. If you do, you're promised a "new colorful look" for your chats, swipe to reply, and the ability to react to messages you're sent using any emoji you like.
From the official statements we've heard so far, it doesn't sound as though Instagram, WhatsApp and Facebook will all use one single messaging system – but rather that all three messaging systems will be able to communicate with each other.
Last month we saw signs in the code for WhatsApp that moves were afoot to enable WhatsApp and Messenger users to directly communicate with each other, but it would seem Instagram integration has been pushed out first.
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