Tech

Instagram, WhatsApp and Messenger to merge - is Facebook killing them off?

Instagram, WhatsApp and Messenger to merge - is Facebook killing them off?

Mark Zuckerberg, chief executive officer of Facebook Incorporated, has revealed plans to integrate Facebook, WhatsApp, Instagram and Messenger.

Facebook now operates three different messaging services in the apps. WhatsApp and Instagram - both acquired by Facebook after independent success - and the separated Messenger app will share the same infrastructure by the end of 2019 or early next year. If users interact more frequently with Facebook's apps, the company may also be able to build up its advertising business or add new services to make money, they said.

A Facebook representative asserted that this merger will result in a "fast, simple, reliable and private" new messaging service. While each app will still exist, you'll be able to send messages from Messenger to WhatsApp users who don't have a Facebook account.

On the bright side, Zuckerberg has also ordered engineers to ensure end-to-end encryption is added to all the three messaging platforms.

If the three are consolidated on top of a single software platform, it is inevitable that Facebook will connect user accounts through their unique identifiers, removing a degree of pseudo-anonymity that some Instagrammers and WhatsApp users in particular value. The ultimate goal is for users to turn to Facebook properties for all their texting/chatting/video call needs instead of using rival services from other companies or SMS/MMS services through phone carriers. In that case, a political data-mining firm, Cambridge Analytica, managed to get data on as many as 87 million Facebook users through a personality-quiz app that was purportedly a research tool.

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A Facebook spokesperson told the Times that "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 FACTS: Zuckerberg doesn't say how people were posed this question or how the user surveys were conducted.

Instagram's founders, Kevin Systrom and Mike Krieger, left Facebook last autumn. The move will also ensure the quick and speedy rollout of similar features across all three platforms along with higher ad revenue for the company.

So, for anyone who uses WhatsApp and Instagram but doesn't like Facebook, we wouldn't be too anxious just yet.

On Dec. 7, employees gathered around microphones at WhatsApp's offices to ask Mr. Zuckerberg why he was so invested in merging the services. It seems unlikely that there is anything so super-special about the underlying architecture of WhatsApp or Instagram that the same services can't be run on Facebook's systems.


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