This is an odd move from Meta, which seems to run counter to its broader messaging integration plan.

As first reported by 9 to 5 Google, the social network has quietly announced a new update that will remove its cross-app messaging option between Facebook and Instagram accounts.

As per Meta:

Beginning in mid-December 2023, you will no longer be able to chat with Facebook accounts on Instagram. Once cross-app communication isn’t available you won’t be able to start new conversations or calls with Facebook accounts from Instagram.

Meta says that any existing cross-app chats will become read-only, which essentially means that they’ll remain archived, but will no longer be active.

Which, as noted, is at odds with Meta’s ongoing messaging integration plan, which has seen the company pushing to create a universal inbox that would be accessible across Facebook, Instagram, and WhatsApp.

As recently as September, Meta secured a key win in this push, with the U.K. Government agreeing to remove a clause from its Online Safety Bill which would have made full encryption impossible across its apps. With that gone, it seemed inevitable that Meta would be moving to the next stage soon, with all of its DM options defaulted to encryption, and interoperable between its apps.

So does this signal a change in this approach?

It does seem to move a step back, but why would Meta revert from this plan after pushing ahead with the process for three years?

Some have pointed to a coming clause in the E.U. Digital Markets Act (DMA) which requires large messaging apps to be interoperable.

Under the DMA, all “gatekeeper” platforms, including Apple, Meta, Google, etc., will need to facilitate connection with other messaging tools “by providing the necessary technical interfaces or similar solutions that facilitate interoperability, upon request, and free of charge.

So Meta will need to enable other platforms to facilitate DM sending into Messenger, IG Direct, and WhatsApp. That would be further complicated with end-to-end encryption enabled, and maybe that’s the reason for the change?

The Verge has also reported that Meta’s currently challenging the European Commission’s decision to regulate Messenger as a “core platform service”, arguing that it should be exempted because Messenger is actually a feature of Facebook, rather than a standalone messaging service.

De-coupling them, in this context, could help to strengthen its case, while it may also look to make the same argument about IG Direct, in an effort to avoid the new interoperability requirements.

We’ve asked Meta for more clarity on why this is changing, but we haven’t heard back as yet.

But it does seem like a backwards step in Meta’s broader messaging integration plan, which could mean that Meta’s moving away from it entirely.

Either way, it’s another consideration for your strategic planning, and how you connect with your audience.