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How to unlink Facebook, Instagram, and Messenger accounts: Move to Europe

Published Jan 28th, 2024 10:34AM EST
Facebook Messenger chats have end-to-end encryption by default.
Image: Meta

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Facebook, Instagram, WhatsApp, Facebook Messenger, Meta Marketplace, and Meta. According to the European Union’s Digital Markets Act (DMA) law, these are all gatekeeper services. Meta is a gatekeeper company as a whole. Therefore, Meta has to make changes according to the EU regulations by March 7th or risk penalties.

With that in mind, hearing that Meta will let you unlink various accounts is unsurprising. In turn, this will prevent the sharing of information between Meta’s services and might improve privacy. The downside should be obvious to anyone familiar with the DMA legislation. Meta’s big changes only apply to users in Europe.

Soon, Meta will let Europeans disconnect Facebook, Instagram, and Messenger accounts and use them as separate services. It’s unclear when it will happen, but again, Meta has until March 7th to implement the changes. 

Meta announced the changes on Monday. The company said Europeans will receive notifications soon to inform them about their options regarding accounts management and data sharing. 

Those people who have Facebook and Instagram accounts in the region, and I bet there must be hundreds of millions who do, will be able to disconnect them. Here are the options coming to them soon: 

continue to connect their accounts through our Accounts Center so that their information will be used across their Instagram and Facebook accounts

manage their Instagram and Facebook accounts separately so that their information is no longer used across accounts

I would go for the second option out of principle, even if it’s more difficult to manage each independent account after that.

The six companies and 22 services the EU considers gatekeepers under the new DMA law.
The six companies and 22 services the EU considers gatekeepers under the new DMA law. Image source: European Commission

Similarly, Meta will let Facebook users disconnect Facebook Messenger from the app: 

Facebook Messenger: People using Facebook Messenger can choose whether they wish to continue using Facebook Messenger with their Facebook account, or if they would prefer to create a stand-alone new Messenger account. People who choose to create a new Messenger account without their Facebook information will be able to use Messenger’s core service offering such as private messaging and chat, voice, and video calling.

In this case, maybe disconnecting the two accounts isn’t necessary. Meta has started rolling out end-to-end encryption to Facebook Messenger in Europe, which is a great feature to have in a chat app.

Meta’s blog post also explains that Facebook users will be able to disconnect the Marketplace and Gaming experiences from their main Facebook accounts. 

To disconnect Facebook, Instagram, Messenger, Marketplace, and Gaming accounts, you’ll have to go to the Accounts Center of the app’s Settings and handle the changes. You’ll be able to do that once Meta rolls out the changes in the region.

I suspect you’ll always be able to change how you link and unlink accounts afterward. It’ll be up to you to choose. Some may choose to separate certain experiences, others might not.

I’ll also remind you that Meta lets Europeans browse Threads without an Instagram account. That feature isn’t available in the US and other markets.

Finally, Meta also notes changes coming to ads in the region, but those changes were implemented in November 2023. Meta is allowing Facebook and Instagram users in Europe to choose between an ad-based experience and a paid one. This one saw plenty of criticism already, as some believe it’s Meta’s way to request approval for personalized ads in Europe.

Chris Smith Senior Writer

Chris Smith has been covering consumer electronics ever since the iPhone revolutionized the industry in 2008. When he’s not writing about the most recent tech news for BGR, he brings his entertainment expertise to Marvel’s Cinematic Universe and other blockbuster franchises.

Outside of work, you’ll catch him streaming almost every new movie and TV show release as soon as it's available.

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