Facebook Plans to Integrate WhatsApp, Instagram and Messenger

Mark Zuckerberg speaking to conservative leaders. (Photo: AP)

Mark Zuckerberg, Facebook’s chief executive, is planning to integrate all three of the social network’s messaging services — WhatsApp, Instagram and Facebook Messenger and bring it all under his control, reported The New York Times. This comes at a time when Facebook and its various businesses have been hit by scandals.

According to the report by NYT, four people told them that while the services would remain as stand-alone apps, their underlying technical infrastructure will be unified. This bringing together of the three messaging networks will reportedly allow people to communicate across the platforms for the first time.
This move is set to redefine how these apps are used and will also draw in users more closely. The questions of antitrust, privacy and security could once again be brought up. It also points to Zuckerberg taking control over apps that he had once said he would leave alone, reported NYT.

Facebook Plans to Integrate WhatsApp, Instagram and Messenger

The plan reportedly is set to be completed by either end of 2019 or early 2020 and will require employees to reconfigure the three apps at their basic levels of functioning. According to the report, Zuckerberg has asked for all apps to incorporate end-to-end encryption.

This move to unify the apps could be part of Zuckerberg’s plan to increase the utility of Facebook and keep its users highly engaged, reducing the danger from rival apps. The change also follows two years of scrutiny of Facebook, which has been embroiled in controversies like election meddling and spreading disinformation.

However, the plan of integration raises the question of how users’ information will be shared across the platforms. While WhatsApp asks for a phone number, Facebook and Facebook Messenger ask users to provide true identities, which could “give a pause to those who prefer to keep their use of each app separate”, reported NYT.

The effort has reportedly caused some strife within the company. Some Facebook employees have also reportedly said that they are confused about what made the combining plan so compelling to Zuckerberg. Several WhatsApp employees have left or plan to leave because of Zuckerberg’s plans, stated the report.

Both Marc Rotenberg, president and executive director the Electronic Privacy Information Center and Representative Ro Khanna, Democrat of California, criticised the change on different grounds.

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