- Facebook is finally beginning the integration of Instagram direct messaging and Messenger.
- And the unification comes amid slowing growth to Facebook's core platform.
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Facebook has been teasing the integration of its messaging apps since early 2019 and will finally do so by allowing users of its Messenger and Instagram apps to message each other, per The New York Times.
Users can send pictures, videos, or text messages between Instagram and Messenger, and Facebook said it will add other new features to Instagram, such as the ability to send ephemeral messages, which will bring it up to par with Messenger.
This unification comes amid slowing growth to Facebook's core platform. We estimate that Facebook's US user base will grow 2.8% this year to 177.1 million, with growth dipping to roughly 1% in 2021 and stagnating through 2024.
Younger user growth is declining as they prefer other platforms: According to fall 2019 data from Piper Sandler, teens' favorite platforms are Snapchat, Instagram, and TikTok, with Instagram and Snapchat seeing the most engagement. As such, creating a more seamless user experience on Facebook's properties is a useful move in keeping the company relevant to younger users.
Platform integration could help Facebook stave off antitrust probes, which have legislators calling for the breakup of Facebook's companies. The Instagram/Messenger combination could centralize Facebook's influence even more within its user base (though it should be noted that for marketers, ad services on the company's platforms are already integrated).
And Facebook taking steps to integrate its services now—amid ongoing federal investigations into whether the company stifles competition—makes it harder for the government to pressure it into splitting up its businesses at a later time.
Public sentiment tends to carry some weight where legislation is concerned, and if Facebook's users become accustomed to the platform integration, breaking them up could draw an outcry. Currently, 100 billion messages are sent across Facebook's suite of apps every day, compared with the 24 billion sent during the peak of mobile texting in 2015, per Portio Research data cited by The Times.
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