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

Updated 20 mins ago - Politics & Policy

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

  1. Global: Total confirmed cases as of 9 a.m. ET: 33,138,963 — Total deaths: 998,380 — Total recoveries: 22,953,639Map.
  2. U.S.: Total confirmed cases as of 9 a.m. ET: 7,116,455 — Total deaths: 204,762 — Total recoveries: 2,766,280 — Total tests: 101,298,794Map.
  3. States: 3 states set single-day coronavirus case records last week
  4. Health: The childless vaccine — Why kids get less severe coronavirus infections.
  5. World: India the second country after U.S. to hit 6 million cases
30 mins ago - Technology

Exclusive: Where Trump and Biden stand on tech issues

Photo illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios. Getty Images photos: Win McNamee and Saul Loeb/AFP

Joe Biden has laid out a more concrete tech agenda whereas President Trump has focused on tax cuts and deregulation while criticizing tech firms for anti-conservative bias. That's according to a side-by-side analysis of the two candidates' tech records by the Information Technology & Innovation Foundation shared exclusively with Axios.

Why it matters: The tech industry needs to prepare for either four more years of Trump's impulsive policy approach or for a Biden administration that's likely to be critical of tech but slow to take action.

Dion Rabouin, author of Markets
2 hours ago - Economy & Business

Big Tech's share of the S&P 500 reached record level in August

Expand chart
Reproduced from The Leuthold Group; Chart: Axios Visuals

The gap between the weighting of the five largest companies in the S&P 500 and the 300 smallest rose to the highest ever at the end of August, according to data from the Leuthold Group.

Why it matters: The concentration of wealth in a few massive U.S. tech companies has reached a scale significantly greater than it was before the dot-com bubble burst.

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