It appears that Facebook is moving forward with plans to integrate Facebook Messenger and Instagram messages–a move that both invites criticism and raises questions about how the culture of each platform’s messages will shift once the merge takes place.
According to Facebook in correspondence with The Verge, a small roll-out of this new feature is currently underway, with a select few people receiving an option to “update” to the newer version of Instagram messages when opening the Instagram mobile app. If one chooses to do this, their Instagram messages will take on a new appearance, and the DM icon we’ve grown to love will be replaced by–you guessed it–a Facebook Messenger icon.
The Verge reported that these changes are purely cosmetic, at least for now: no messaging Facebook users from Instagram yet. That’s bound to change in the future.
Facebook’s plan will, theoretically and eventually, culminate in Facebook Messenger, Instagram messages, and WhatsApp merging together under one app–presumably the Messenger banner–in order for users to connect across platforms without having to switch apps. In principle, this doesn’t sound like a bad idea; having more connectivity for less bandwidth is always good.
However, in practice, there are a few things wrong with this model.
Firstly, the separation of church and state–metaphorically speaking–is important. It’s not uncommon for someone to use WhatsApp for business and social media for relaxation (yeah, it sounds wrong to me, too). Combining those two into one platform may seem seamless from an appearance standpoint, but it’s kind of akin to working from bed: It’s confusing, it’s potentially aggravating, and it robs you of some of the comfort you associate with that room (or app).
Perhaps more importantly, the cultural paradigms for each of these three services are about as different as they come. As mentioned previously, WhatsApp has more of a familial and business connotation, whereas Instagram messages tend to be more casual, and Facebook Messenger is a wretched hive of scum and villainy. Throwing all three of them together may make sense from a logistical standpoint, but Facebook will most certainly lose some support along the way.
For now, keep an eye out for that Instagram update–and, if you’re anything like us, avoid it like the Coronavirus.