Facebook is giving users the option to merge their Messenger inbox with Instagram Direct, which grants the ability to send messages across platforms.
Users are seeing a pop-up when opening the Instagram app informing them about this update.
“There’s a New Way to Message on Instagram,” the pop-up reads.
The notice goes on to emphasize the following benefits of merging the two chat platforms:
- New colourful look for your chats
- React with any emoji
- Swipe to reply to messages
- Chat with friends who use Facebook
Before you choose to update, be aware that it will change the entire look and feel of your Instagram direct message inbox.
Instagram Direct will suddenly look more like Facebook Messenger. Even the icon at the top right of the screen will be replaced with the Messenger icon.
Those who prefer things the way they are will be happy to know this update is completely optional.
If you enjoy the classic design of Instagram DM’s, or you want to keep the two inboxes separate, select the “Not Now” option at the very bottom of the alert.
Users who are on board with merging the two inboxes can go ahead and select “Update.”
Here’s what the alert looks like:
Note that even if you don’t update you will still be able to receive message requests on Instagram from Facebook accounts.
That appears to be the only way to message Facebook users from Instagram at this point – a Facebook user has to initiate the chat.
This may change in the future, but right now it’s not possible to start conversations with Facebook users from Instagram.
With that being the case, this update seems to be most useful for Instagram users who are not active on Facebook.
This gives non-Facebook users a way to keep in touch with friends and family who would prefer to communicate through Messenger.
Now, there’s no compromise needed on either side. Messenger users can communicate with Instagram users without having to leave their platform of choice.
This is an update that has been in the works for well over a year now, as Facebook gave the world a heads-up about this change back in 2019.
Facebook Cross-Platform Messaging
We reported back in January 2019 that Facebook was working on merging its messaging products.
As per a statement from a Facebook spokesperson:
“[We want to] build the best messaging experiences we can; and people want messaging to be fast, simple, reliable and private.
We’re working on making more of our messaging products end-to-end encrypted and considering ways to make it easier to reach friends and family across networks.”
At the time, Facebook planned to have a solution in place by early 2020.
Those plans got derailed by the pandemic, which forced Facebook to focus instead on live streaming.
The live streaming boom was triggered by COVID-19 lockdowns, which lead to increased time spent at home on Facebook.
In order to keep up with the demand for live streaming, Facebook had to pause work on other projects.
Presumably, merging messaging platforms was one of the projects that got put on hold.
After successfully beefing up its live streaming capabilities, it appears Facebook is now picking up where it left off.