Mark Zuckerberg. Photo: Drew Angerer/Getty Images

Facebook is starting to merge the messaging infrastructure of its apps WhatsApp, Facebook Messenger and Instagram, the Verge reports.

Why it matters: This is the latest move in Facebook's broader initiative to fuse individual apps and products, paving the way for users to be able to communicate cross-platform.

  • The integration comes as Facebook grapples with growing antitrust investigations in Congress and ongoing scandals.

Details: The shift comes with an update of Facebook's apps on Apple and Android devices, per the Verge, citing user reports.

  • Once updated, Instagram embeds Facebook Messenger functionality, and adds features including swipe-to-reply and the ability to “chat with friends who use Facebook."
  • CEO Mark Zuckerberg has previously indicated that he wants the system to be end-to-end encrypted.

Between the lines: Facebook acquired Instagram and WhatsApp in 2012 and 2014 respectively, but originally vowed to leave the platforms relatively untouched.

  • Both Instagram and WhatsApp's founders left Facebook's umbrella due to increased overreach by Zuckerberg.

The bottom line: By integrating these apps, Facebook may compete more directly with Apple’s iMessage, the Verge writes.

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Why it matters: In the smartphone era, Facebook has found itself at the mercy of Apple and — to a lesser degree — Google and Android phone makers. The company doesn't want to see history repeat itself.

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Facebook on Wednesday introduced a new version of its Oculus Quest and took the next step in a longer-term push toward augmented reality glasses.

Why it matters: Facebook has made big bets on virtual reality and augmented reality as key to its future and it is moving forward despite concerns from regulators and privacy advocates.

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NYT, Facebook launch multi-year augmented reality reporting project

Screen shots from the NYT's Instagram filters about pollution

The New York Times and Facebook have struck a multi-year partnership to co-develop augmented reality (AR) filters and effects on Instagram that help users access and contextualize New York Times journalism, executives tell Axios.

Why it matters: It's the first time that The Times has experimented with augmented reality technology at scale and off of its own website and apps. The partnership also represents an evolution in the relationship between publishers and tech companies.