Three years after it first launched, Meta has decided to disable Facebook's and Instagram's cross-messaging feature.
The company introduced cross-app chats back in 2020, letting users from the two platforms talk to each other with ease. There were even plans to extend the interoperability with CEO Mark Zuckerberg saying at one point he wanted to have all of Meta’s messaging apps working together. But those dreams have been squashed as a recently updated Instagram Help Center page states communication is ending sometime in “mid-December 2023”. An exact date was not given.
The support website lays out what’ll happen after deactivation. In addition to being unable to “start new conversations or calls”, all pre-existing chats made with a Facebook account will now become read-only. Facebook users, in turn, will not be able to see an Instagram profile’s Activity Status or view any read receipts. Plus, Meta will not be moving any conversations to Messenger. If you want to begin a new chat, you’ll have to start from scratch on the respective platform.
Prepping for the future
Currently, we have no idea why this is happening. Meta has yet to make an official announcement explaining the move. However, 9To5Google theorizes it may have something to do with Europe's Digital Market Act (DMA).
To give you a crash course, the European Union passed the DMA in 2022 as a way to prevent major tech corporations (or “gatekeepers” as the bill calls them) from gaining a monopoly over the tech industry. One of the provisions within the law is that these large companies must “offer interoperability between messaging platforms” and fall under the EU's purview. It’s important to point out that Meta has been scaling back its Messenger service for some time now, including ending support for the SMS standard and shutting down Messenger Lite.
The company might instead prop up WhatsApp as its main, DMA-compliant messaging service. WABetaInfo found evidence of this last September, with Meta working on allowing WhatsApp users to send texts to third-party apps. No word on when this support will officially be released, but it could be soon. Every corporation designated as a gatekeeper by the DMA must comply with the law by March 6, 2024.
We reached out to Meta asking if they could give an exact date on when the cross-chat feature will go offline and explain why they’re doing this. The story will be updated at a later time.
While you wait, check out TechRadar's list of the best encrypted messaging apps for Android in 2023.