Facebook head Tom Alison announced today that the company is testing the ability for users to access their Messenger inboxes within the Facebook app. In 2016, Facebook removed messaging capabilities from its mobile web application in order to push people to the Messenger app, in a move that angered many users.
Now the company is testing a reversal of this decision. In a blog post, Alison said the social network is currently testing this change, noting that Facebook plans to expand the test soon. The change comes as Facebook and other platforms owned by Meta want to compete with TikTok.
“Over the next year, we’ll be developing more ways to integrate messaging features into Facebook,” Alison said in the blog post. “Ultimately, we want it to be easy and convenient for people to connect and share, both in the Messenger app and directly on Facebook.”
Over the past year, Facebook has increasingly focused on being an app for close friends and family, positioning itself instead as a discovery platform. Last June, the social network revamped its “Home” feed to improve content discovery. At the time, Facebook said the Home feed serves as a discovery engine for users to find new content and creators through algorithmic recommendations.
The move signaled Meta’s continued desire to chase down TikTok, its biggest threat. Since Facebook has focused on being a discovery engine, it’s not surprising that it’s looking for in-app messages. By doing so, it can present itself as a place for users to discuss content immediately after discovering it. Alison notes that it’s important for Facebook to make it easier for people to share what they discover on Facebook through posts, without having to switch apps. Since TikTok shows its users new content and also provides a place to discuss it via DMs, Facebook probably thinks it needs the same to compete with it.
As part of today’s announcement, Alison said Facebook is off to a good start this year and the social network is “thriving.”
“Contrary to popular belief, Facebook is not dead or dead, but in fact very much alive with 2 billion daily active users,” Alison wrote. “People use Facebook for more than just connecting with friends and family, but also to discover and engage with what matters most to them.”
In its fourth-quarter results reported last month, the company reported fourth-quarter revenue of $32.17 billion, higher than estimates, though still down 4% year-over-year and third consecutive quarter of represent decreases. However, the stock boomed after beating earnings thanks to Meta’s promises of “a year of efficiency” and the de-emphasis on the metaverse in favor of AI work.