meta cross chat

Meta has quietly revealed its intention to discontinue support for cross-app messaging (cross chat) between Facebook Messenger and Instagram, as indicated in updates to a pair of help pages. Starting from the middle of December, users will no longer be able to engage in cross-app communication between Messenger and Instagram. This entails the inability to initiate new conversations with users on either platform, existing chat threads between the two will become read-only, and stored chats will not be transferred to the inbox.

The introduction of cross-app messaging (cross chat) by Meta occurred in late 2020, aligning with the integration of features from the standalone Facebook Messenger app into Instagram to facilitate communication between the two platforms.

“We’re connecting the Messenger and Instagram experience to bring some of the best Messenger features to Instagram – so you have access to the best messaging experience, no matter which app you use,” Instagram lead Adam Mosseri and Messenger head Stan Chudnovsky said in a canned statement at the time.

“With this update, it will be even easier to stay connected without thinking about which app to use to reach your friends and family,” they added.

The rationale behind Meta’s decision to eliminate the cross-app messaging feature remains unclear, particularly given the initially stated user-friendly purpose and Meta’s mission statement of “giving people the power to build community and bring the world closer together.” The removal of cross-app messaging seems counterintuitive, as it appears to drive users further apart.

Despite inquiries from The Register, Meta has not provided responses.

The New York Times speculated on the day Meta announced the feature in 2020 that the move was less about enhancing user friendliness and more about integrating its products in a way that would make it challenging for authorities to separate them in the event of an antitrust breakup.

Meta’s potential strategies to evade antitrust implications may have been thwarted after being designated as a gatekeeper under the EU’s Digital Markets Act (DMA), which came into effect earlier this year. The designation of gatekeepers, including Meta and its communication apps WhatsApp and Messenger, subjected them to more stringent regulation.

The EU officially designated gatekeepers in September, and Meta, along with its Messenger and Marketplace platforms, is among the services specifically targeted for stricter oversight. Gatekeepers are obligated to adhere to requirements such as third-party interoperability, a condition Meta appears reluctant to apply to Messenger. Meta has contested the gatekeeper designation for Messenger and its Marketplace platform, while it hasn’t contested the designations for Facebook, Instagram, or WhatsApp. Reportedly, Meta has been developing features for WhatsApp to ensure compliance with the DMA.

To avoid compliance with gatekeeper requirements, which become effective in March 2024, Meta contends that Messenger is not a gatekeeper but rather a feature of another platform, namely Facebook. The motivation behind this move remains uncertain, and attempts to determine if discussions between EU officials and Meta prompted the decision are ongoing.

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