From mid-December, Instagram and Facebook’s messaging services will no longer be cross-compatible, according to a pair of Meta support pages quietly updated. Once the feature is discontinued, you won’t be able to start new cross-platform chats, and existing conversations between services will go into read-only mode. It’s unclear exactly when the pages were updated, but the Instagram version carried the notice as of at least November 21st.
A Meta spokesperson confirmed the change in a statement given to The Verge. “A few years ago, we introduced a new Messenger experience in Instagram DMs which enabled people to message and call a FB account (Messenger) from an Instagram account and vice versa,” spokesperson Alex Dziedzan said. “Starting in mid-December, we will begin removing this feature. However, people can continue to message and call their contacts on Facebook, Instagram or Messenger.”
The discontinuation of the feature comes a little over three years after it was launched in 2020. At the time, Instagram head Adam Mosseri suggested that the change would let Meta work more efficiently, building messaging features once and then rolling them out to all its products. Indeed, the launch of cross-platform messaging coincided with Instagram DMs receiving a number of features that were previously Messenger-exclusive, including vanishing messages and selfie stickers.
But there was also speculation that tying Meta’s services closer together would make a potential breakup of Facebook, Instagram, and, eventually, WhatsApp harder. “If the Federal Trade Commission ever planned to compel Facebook to spin out WhatsApp and Instagram,” my colleague Casey Newton wrote in 2019, “you can imagine the company explaining that there was no longer such a thing as ‘WhatsApp’ or ‘Instagram.’ Going forward, those names will refer only to their respective graphical user interfaces.”
In what seems unlikely to be a coincidence, Meta is unwinding the two messaging platforms at the same time it’s challenging the European Commission’s decision to regulate Messenger as a “core platform service” under the Digital Markets Act. Being hit by the EU’s tough new antitrust rules would result in Meta having to make Messenger interoperable with other messaging services, but Meta is arguing that it should be exempted because Messenger is a feature of Facebook rather than a standalone messaging platform. It’s unclear to what extent Messenger’s interoperability with Instagram DMs impacted its designation under the DMA, and the feature doesn’t appear to have ever come to Europe.
Meta is reportedly not seeking to challenge a similar designation for its WhatsApp messaging service, and there are signs it’s already working to make the service interoperable as required by the DMA.