January 28, 2019
Facebook chief exec Mark Zuckerberg reportedly plans to integrate the company’s Instagram, Messenger and WhatsApp messaging apps. According to those familiar with the plan, the three services will continue operating as standalone apps, but their tech infrastructure will be stitched together. For the first time, the messaging networks’ 2.6 billion global users will be able to communicate across platforms. The initiative is expected to be completed by the end of this year or early 2020. It will require teams to significantly reconfigure functionality of all three services and will include new end-to-end encryption.
“The move has the potential to redefine how billions of people use the apps to connect with one another while strengthening Facebook’s grip on users, raising antitrust, privacy and security questions,” reports The New York Times. “It also underscores how Mr. Zuckerberg is imposing his authority over units he once vowed to leave alone.”
The move could also “help the social media giant better tailor ads for users, and bolster its case against a breakup by regulators,” according to Bloomberg. “Stitching the apps together may increase data-sharing among the properties, helping Facebook identify users across the platform, and improve the ability to target ads to them.”
“Progressive groups have been urging the Federal Trade Commission for months to carve up Facebook and split off Instagram, WhatsApp and Messenger into their own companies,” notes Bloomberg. “That would be harder to accomplish if the services are more tightly entwined. At the same time, it may increase concerns about transparency for consumers around how Facebook’s data gathering works.”
In addition, integrating the three Facebook networks could help fend off rival services from the likes of Apple and Google.