When Facebook announced its platform for bots at the F8 developer conference this year, publishers raced to push news into Facebook Messenger. But until now, their stories have loaded in slower-loading web views inside Messenger, rather than the faster Instant Articles format that Facebook introduced last year. But not any more — starting today, Facebook Messenger supports Instant Articles just as the flagship Facebook app does.
Instant Articles will be denoted in Messenger by a lightning bolt icon at the top right corner of links that are shared in the app. Facebook says Instant Articles load up to 10 times faster than the traditional mobile web. They will begin appearing first in Android, the company says, and will be coming next week to iOS. It's unclear how much Instant Articles are doing for publishers — particularly given Facebook's announcement this month that it plans to de-emphasize publishers' posts in the News Feed — but they have proven popular with readers. Now that they're in Messenger, which has more than 900 million monthly users, that popularity should only accelerate.