Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

Facebook is building a unified messaging for businesses feature that will let businesses access and manage Instagram Direct Messages alongside its Facebook Messenger messages, according to two sources familiar with the matter.

Why it matters: It's a first step in building a tool to manage messaging across Facebook's apps for businesses. The New York Times reported last month that the company was planning to unit the back-end technology that runs Instagram, Facebook Messenger and WhatsApp on the consumer side.

The details: The feature will add Instagram Direct messaging to a page owner's messaging inbox within the Facebook Pages Manager app on web and mobile. The tool currently only lets businesses control messages coming from Facebook Messenger.

  • The function would exist only on the front-end for business page managers. Users would not be able to see the difference when their message is answered.
  • The idea to integrate B2B messaging started 2016, when the company integrated the ability to respond to comments from Instagram on the Facebook Pages Manager app.

The big picture: Facebook’s decision to unite the backend of its three giant messaging services could help the company get a bigger foothold in the business messaging space, an area that's growing quickly, especially in developing countries.  

  • This could increase time spent in the messaging apps, which would bolster Facebook's small-but-growing advertising business within messaging.
  • While Facebook has discussed monetizing messaging for months, there are no current monetization plans for the Facebook Messaging + Instagram Direct messaging experience, according to a source.

By the numbers: Millions of businesses around the world use Facebook’s messaging tools as a business-to-business (B2B) communications platform between vendors and consumers.

  • 150 million people on Instagram have a conversation with a business every month.
  • 10 billion messages are sent between people and businesses every month on Messenger.

Go deeper: Facebook's plan: One messaging service to rule them all

Go deeper

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Data: Compiled from state health departments by Axios; Map: Danielle Alberti/Axios

At least 15 states broke their single-day novel coronavirus infection records this week, according to state health department data reviewed by Axios.

The big picture: The number of coronavirus cases increased in the vast majority of states over the last week, and decreased in only two states plus the District of Columbia, Axios' Andrew Withershoop and Caitlin Owens report.

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Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

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Photo: Francine Orr/Los Angeles Times/Getty Images

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The state of play: Axios' Stef Kight writes public parades and fireworks displays around much of the country are being canceled to prevent mass gatherings where the virus could spread. Hot-dog contests and concerts will play to empty stands and virtual audiences — all while American pride treads an all-time low.