Mark Zuckerberg plans to merge the social network services _ WhatsApp, Facebook, and Instagram_ maintaining his control over the company’s sprawling sections at a time when its business has been damaged by scandal. The services will continue to work as stand-alone applications, but their underlying technical foundation will be joined, said four people involved in the process.
That will bring three of the world’s biggest messaging networks together, which allows people to communicate between the platforms for the very first time.
This movement has the potential to redefine how billions of users adopt the apps to connect each other while increasing Facebook’s grip on users, raising privacy and security questions. It also underscores how Zuckerberg is imposing his power over parts he once promised to leave alone.
The plan requires thousands of Facebook employees to reconfigure how Instagram, Facebook and WhatsApp messenger function at their basic levels, said the employees involved in the effort, who spoke on the condition of being anonymous because the matter is very confidential. Zuckerberg also wants to incorporate apps in an end-t-end encryption, a big step that protects messages from being viewed by anyone except the members of the conversation.
In a statement, Facebook said: “We want to build the best messaging experiences we can; and people want messaging to be fast, simple, reliable and private.” It added: “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.”
What is the point of stitching the apps together?
By merging the apps’ foundation, Mark hopes to expand Facebook’s utility and keep users extremely engaged inside the company’s ecosystem. That could decrease people’s hunger for rival messaging services, like those provided by Apple and Google. If people can interact more regularly with Facebook’s apps, the company might also be able to extend its advertising business or add new revenue-generating services.
The plan follows two years of analysis of Facebook’s core social network, which has been criticized for permitting election meddling and the spreading of disinformation. Those and other problems have reduced Facebook’s growth and harmed its reputation, raising the hackles of regulators and lawmakers around the world. Zuckerberg has frequently apologized for the issues and has promised to fix them.
But the reforms might not sit well with some Facebook users, who have become more cautious about the data the company yields to other tech-firms following a lot of scandals. Last year, revelations showed that UK political consultancy Cambridge Analytica collected the data of up to 87 million Facebook users without their permission. It’s unclear what user data will be shared among Instagram, Facebook Messenger, and WhatsApp.
Matthew Green, a cryptographer at John Hopkins University, raised concerns on Twitter about the information that could be shared between the applications and whether WhatsApp’s encryption would get less safe. WhatsApp only needs a phone number to sign up for the app while Facebook requires users to confirm their identities, the Times pointed out in its report.
Merging Facebook messenger with Instagram and WhatsApp might also make it harder for government regulators to break up the company. Brian Wieser, an analyst at Pivotal Research Group, said: “It ties up the company more rigidly.” “They’re doubling down on the fact that they’re one company. The stakes are higher.”
Facebook expects the messaging to play a much more significant role in its future. In October 2018, Zuckerberg said an increasing number of users are shifting from posting publicly to sharing privately in messaging apps.