The social network Facebook, which also includes WhatsApp and Instagram, wants to bring together all its messenger services. This was reported by the „New York Times“ on Friday. Although Facebook Messenger as well as WhatsApp and Instagram should persist as individual apps, in the future the services should be connected with each other. This step should also be controversial within the group.
In the future, Facebook users, for example, could directly contact people who are only registered with WhatsApp. Compared to the BBC, Facebook confirmed that this was the beginning of a „long process“. First of all, the infrastructure of the services must be brought together.
According to the „New York Times“ („NYT“) this could be a very elaborate project. The report, based on the testimony of several Facebook employees, said that „thousands“ of employees are working to convert WhatsApp, Instagram and Facebook Messenger accordingly. At the moment, the project is in an early phase, it is said – but by the end of 2020, it should be completed.
Fusion as a personal concern of Zuckerberg
The merger is likely to be a personal project of Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg. Zuckerberg, who bought Instagram 2012 and WhatsApp 2014, promised autonomy of the purchased services for many years. However, after the success of the two apps, he may have changed his course, so the „NYT“. Since last year he is said to have advertised in-house to merge the services.
This apparently caused internal conflict. In the fall of 2018, Instagram founders Kevin Systrom and Mike Krieger left Facebook. Also WhatsApp founder Jan Koum and Brian left the Zuckerberg Group. Recently, according to „NYT,“ dozens of WhatsApp employees clashed with Zuckerberg after the plans for the merger became known.
Facebook boss promises more security
The Facebook boss is said to have also campaigned that in the future apps can be encrypted communication with each other. So far, Instagram lacked the ability to submit encrypted messages. Even between the services, messages should therefore no longer be read by anyone.
Facebook states in a statement that it „wants to create the best messaging experiences possible. People want messaging to be fast, easy, reliable and private. „In addition, they’re working to“ encrypt more of our messaging products throughout, „and we’re thinking“ how to make it easier for friends and family across networks to reach“.
The fact that the services are to be encrypted, according to „NYT“ could make the merger even more difficult. Unlike Instagram and Facebook’s own messenger, WhatsApp does not store any messages yet. If Facebook encodes all private messages in the future, that could also call some governments on the plan, which wants to proceed already against the coding with WhatsApp, how last in Australia.
New worries for privacy advocates
However, a common messaging mega network will undoubtedly cause excitement for privacy advocates. So far, for a registration with WhatsApp the indication of the telephone number, with Instagram the indication of an email address – Facebook demands moreover about the indication of the full name and locks in case of doubt the user account.
The fact that these data could now at least be merged internally could be problematic for the Group in times of the EU data protection regulation. Facebook is already being criticized for dealing with user data – and still has to justify itself for the data scandal surrounding Cambridge Analytica.
Business model still unclear
It is clear that the merger should extend the service life of Facebook – so the potential generational conflict between Instagram and Facebook users could be minimized through a direct connection between the two services.
But according to the „NYT“ there is still no specific plan how the merger could be financially profitable. More length of stay could lead to „new types of advertising,“ say the people familiar with the project. It is also conceivable that Facebook’s classifieds platform Marketplace could play a bigger role.