Facebook has plans to integrate Instagram DMs, WhatsApp, and Facebook messenger so that messages can travel between the three platforms. The merger wants to create “The best messaging experience” for all of the users around the world who use the Facebook-owned platforms.
The platforms will remain distinct from each other, although their underlying messaging infrastructure would be unified. An employee of Facebook said the merger would produce a messaging platform that was simple, fast, private and reliable, though data experts have warned it could have an impact on users’ privacy.
“We’re working on making more of our messaging products end-to-end encrypted and considering ways to make it easier to reach friends and family across networks,” The spokesperson said. No official statements have been released, but the plan is expected to take place by early this year, as the New York Times reported.
The merger is a backtrack on Mark Zuckerberg’s main stance that both WhatsApp and Instagram would operate autonomously from the social media platform. Facebook acquired Instagram for approximately $1 billion in 2012, before taking over the WhatsApp in 2014 for an estimated $19/3 billion. Both platforms have since experienced fast-track growth _ Instagram has over 1 billion monthly active users, and WhatsApp has 1.5 billion users_ but all founders of the application have since left Facebook.
One of the main concerns with merging the apps could be related to data privacy. Currently, WhatsApp users are not required to enter their name or any other identifying information except their phone number to use the app. Merging with Instagram and Facebook messenger could force WA users to reveal some information about themselves that they might prefer to keep private. Data privacy expert Tim Mackey told independent that Facebook should take care of how the integration handles the firm’s “spotty history” with user privacy.
“Merging personal information and privacy configurations from three significant applications won’t be trivial,” he said. “Facebook development teams would do well to look at this precedent and prioritize user privacy.”
“With the integration project currently expected to take a year to complete, and with end-to-end encryption as part of the plan, we should expect the Facebook engineering teams to focus attention on uniform data security both in their platform and in the apps themselves.”
Facebook said in a statement: “As you would expect, there is a lot of discussion and debate as we begin the long process of figuring out all the details of how this [merger] will work.”
What do you think about this merger? Share your thoughts with us in the comments below.