“The changes are part of a larger Messenger redesign that reorients the People tab around Stories as Facebook continues to try to dominate the ephemeral social media format it copied from Snapchat. The People tab now defaults to a full-screen sub-tab of friends’ Stories, and requires a tap over to the Active sub tab to see which friends are online now.”
The publication received the tip and screenshots (above) from a social media manager who is running the future build, presumably for testing. It means that Messenger is being scaled back to a straight chat app where a few years ago Facebook aggressively tried to move the app into a utility based, WeChat-style do-everything product. This is the clearest sign yet that that has not worked.
The screenshots don't show any ads in the chat list, but this is a mainstay of the free platform and we suspect they will remain.
The change will mean Messenger has its core Chat tab and then the People tab, which is a vehicle for Facebook Stories – meaning its basic functions will mirror that of Snapchat. Facebook-owned Instagram also has Stories and Chat, showing the current propensity for temporary social media posting and DMs.
“Chat bots, businesses and games are being hidden, but not completely banished from Messenger. They’ll still be accessible if users purposefully seek them through the Messenger search bar, Pages and ads on Facebook, buttons to start conversations on businesses’ websites, and m.me URL that create QR codes which open to business accounts in Messenger.”
But this design change sees Facebook admitting that these are not primary consumer facing features, and they are not popular. Chat bots in particular are pretty useless in our experience, only providing useful information if you are very specific in your wording.
Facebook has confirmed that most global users should get the update by this week.