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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

Neera Tanden withdraws nomination for Office of Management and Budget director

Neera Tanden testifying before the Senate Budget Committee in Washington, D.C., in February 2021. Photo: Anna Moneymaker/The New York Times/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Neera Tanden withdrew her name from nomination to lead the Office of Management and Budget after several senators voiced opposition and concern about her qualifications and past combative tweets, President Biden announced Tuesday.

Why it matters: Tanden’s decision to pull her nomination marks Biden's first setback in filling out his Cabinet with a thin Democratic majority in the Senate.

What's ahead for the newest female CEOs

Jane Fraser (L) and Rosalind Brewer. Photos: Jason Redmond/AFP via Getty Images; Rodrigo Capote/Bloomberg via Getty Images.

The number of women at the helm of America’s biggest companies pales in comparison to men, but is newly growing — and their tasks are huge.

What's going on: Jane Fraser took over at Citigroup this week, the first woman to ever lead a major U.S. bank. Rosalind Brewer will take the reins at Walgreens in the coming weeks (March 15) — a company that's been run by white men for more than a century.

3 hours ago - Health

Biden says U.S. will have enough vaccines for 300 million adults by end of May

President Biden. Photo: Anna Moneymaker-Pool/Getty Images

President Biden on Tuesday said that ramped-up coronavirus vaccine production will provide enough doses for 300 million Americans by the end May.

Why it matters: That's two months sooner than Biden's previous promise of enough vaccines for all American adults by the end of July.

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