Facebook adds chat interoperability between Instagram and Messenger

The update is part of the company's years-long goal to rebuild its core services around encryption, privacy and interoperability.

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Facebook is adding tighter integrations between Instagram and Messenger as part of the company's years-long goal to rebuild its core services around encryption and privacy. The social media giant said Wednesday that it will begin rolling out new functionality that more tightly connects Instagram and Messenger.

The most notable change is that communications on the Messenger app can now be sent to a person on Instagram, without the sender actually needing to download the Instagram app, and vice versa. Users can control where they receive messages and calls, whether that's through chats, message requests or not at all. 

Meanwhile, an expanded set of privacy tools will allow users to manage where message requests are sent and to report abusive or suspicious activity. Users can also report full conversations in addition to single messages on Instagram, and receive proactive blocking suggestions across Instagram and Messenger, based on accounts that have already been blocked elsewhere, Facebook said.

All of this interoperability runs through Facebook's new Accounts Center portal, which basically serves as a hub where users can connect their Facebook, Instagram, and Messenger accounts for cross posting and communication.

With this update, the ultimate end-goal for Facebook is the creation of a privacy-focused social platform that blends the community of a public social network with the intimacy and security of private messaging on WhatsApp. A year ago, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg outlined the company's plans to rebuild many of its services with a privacy-focused approach to messaging. 

Zuckerberg said at the time that Facebook would retool its messaging services to be more interoperable, ephemeral, and with end-to-end encryption. The goal, he said, was to give people more control over their private messages and how long they're stored, to reduce the permanence of the content that people share, and to add messaging interoperability between the Messenger, Instagram and WhatsApp platforms.

"We plan to build this the way we've developed WhatsApp: focus on the most fundamental and private use case -- messaging -- make it as secure as possible, and then build more ways for people to interact on top of that, including calls, video chats, groups, stories, businesses, payments, commerce, and ultimately a platform for many other kinds of private services," Zuckerberg wrote in a blog post last year. 

Some of the key interoperability features are rolling out today, but the technical undertaking will ultimately take years, Zuckerberg said.