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

Now we know why WhatsApp’s founders quit, and it’s not good news!

Users on Facebook Messenger, Instagram, and WhatsApp would all be able to communicate, regardless of the app they are using. With a merged platforms, an Instagram user could send a private message to a WhatsApp user, a process not now available.

However, The New York Times notes that while plans are in the works, Facebook is still only in the early stages of carrying this out and it could be 2020 until it is fully in place. Zuckerberg has also ordered all the apps to incorporate end-to-end encryption, which will be a significant step forward for user privacy as now, only WhatsApp encrypts its messages by default. Currently WhatsApp has end-to-end encryption on by default for all conversations, while in Messenger you can opt into end-to-end encrypted chats.

The statement said there was a lot of "discussion and debate" about how the system would eventually work. Fifty-one per cent of users said they were "not very or not at all comfortable" with Facebook amassing this information about them.

The platforms would include Facebook Messenger, Instagram, and WhatsApp, all properties owned by Facebook.

Integrating the messaging services could make it harder for antitrust regulators to break up Facebook by undoing its acquisitions of WhatsApp and Instagram, said Sam Weinstein, a professor at the Benjamin N. Cardozo School of Law.

Still, according to the New York Times, this move has prompted controversy within Facebook, with Instagram's founders, Kevin Systrom and Mike Krieger quitting past year apparently because of Zuckerberg's increased control over the service. However, targeted advertising throughout all three platforms should be expected.

This would mean a WhatsApp user could send a message to someone on Facebook's Messenger app. But the concerns over such a move run the gamut from data-privacy issues to regulatory scrutiny over so much information being available and collected by one company.

In 2018, we learned that Facebook was data-sharing with other companies such as Microsoft's Bing, Spotify, Netflix and others in exchange for more information about its users.

It's hard to imagine why Zuckerberg is undertaking a massive overhaul of two beloved (if largely unprofitable) products to fuse them with the bloated Messenger app, and more closely associate them in consumers' minds with the deeply tarnished reputation of Facebook. At the time that Facebook bought the firms, Zuckerberg promised WhatsApp and Instagram plenty of autonomy from its parent company.

But messaging functionality would be shared across them, so users on Instagram could text people on WhatsApp.

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