Facebook Instagram Messenger comboSource: Facebook

What you need to know

  • Facebook Messenger is now part of Instagram.
  • Facebook says it "makes it easier for people to connect".
  • A Newsroom post outlines the privacy implications of the move.

Update, October 2 (8:00 am ET) Facebook reached out to confirm that while users will be able to reach Instagram contacts from Messenger and vice versa, the inboxes will not be merged. There's more info available over on Facebook.

Following the merging of Messenger and Instagram chats, Facebook has published a new Newsroom post to outline what that means in terms of privacy.

According to Facebook, we needn't worry because while Instagram and Messenger do see some data being collected, none of that will come from the contents of our chats. In other words, we won't talk about lamps in a chat window and then find that Instagram spends the next week trying to sell lamps to us.

As with other parts of Facebook, we collect information from Instagram and Messenger primarily to provide the service, improve the product experience, and keep people safe and secure. We don't use the content of messages between people on Messenger and Instagram for ad targeting, which means advertisers can't target you based on what you say in messages. We're always improving our processes for monitoring and verifying how we use data.

There's more good news in terms of the control users will have over their privacy. Facebook says that users now have more control thanks to the merger.

With this update, you will have more control over who can reach you and how. The new privacy settings will let you decide who reaches your Chats list, who goes to your Message Request folder, and who can't message or call you at all. For example, someone on Instagram can choose not to receive messages from people on Facebook.

There will also be a suite of tools that will give people "tools that help you understand what you're seeing and give you controls to respond to issues you may encounter".

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Maybe all of that will put people's minds at ease. Maybe it won't. Regardless of the potential privacy implications of pushing Instagram and Messenger together, it's still a matter for debate as to whether it's a good move for users and their experience, or not.

Time will, as always, tell.

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