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According to The New York Times, Facebook is planning to merge the messaging services of three apps under its ownership: Messenger, WhatsApp, and Instagram.
To be clear, this is not a planned merger of the apps themselves, but rather a way to unify messaging between them. Messenger users would be able to message their favorite Instagrammers, while you could easily WhatsApp somebody a question about a Facebook Marketplace post.
That kind of change involves a pretty hefty reworking of their backend infrastructure, and has some people worried about the privacy and security implications in combining the services.
Of course, Facebook already owns all three properties, but has always vowed to keep WhatsApp and Instagram independent after buying out their original development teams years ago. With that set to change, some WhatsApp employees are already reported to have quit in protest.
On the plus side, Mark Zuckerberg is promising end-to-end encryption for the entire process, something which is currently only implemented in WhatsApp chat.
Facebook explained its motives in a statement:
“We want to build the best messaging experiences we can; and people want messaging to be fast, simple, reliable and private. 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.”
It’s unclear precisely what Facebook hopes to gain from the change, but it certainly would increase its dominance in the messaging world and would potentially help it hoover up more usage data for its targeted ads.
According to people familiar with the plans, this undertaking is likely to take around a year to complete, so we probably won’t see this come to light until 2020 – if it goes ahead at all. Stay tuned for more.