Facebook, WhatsApp and Instagram will be merging into a ‘single messaging service’ next year.
All three apps are expecting big changes, according to The Sun.
Facebook Messenger, along with Facebook-owned WhatsApp and Instagram, will still exist as stand-alone apps.
But messaging functionality would be shared across them, so users on Instagram could text people on WhatsApp.
You could even message someone on Instagram without ever actually having an Instagram account.
The move was revealed in a New York Times exposé, and later confirmed by Facebook.
It’s expected that the “integration” between the apps will be completed as soon as the end of 2019, or possibly early 2020.
Work on the project is already underway to unify the “messaging infrastructure” between the apps.
It means that all three apps will support end-to-end encryption, which Instagram currently lacks.
End-to-end encryption means that your message is garbled into gibberish during transit, and can only be read in its true form by the sender and recipient.
It’s an important privacy feature, and already one of the defining features of WhatsApp.
But it won’t be easy.
“Given the spotty history Facebook have in managing user privacy settings, merging personal information and privacy configurations from three significant applications won’t be trivial,” said Tim Mackey, technical evangelist at Synopsys, speaking to The Sun.
According to the New York Times, the idea is being masterminded by billionaire Facebook chief Mark Zuckerberg.
It’s a bid to keep users hooked into the Facebook ecosystem — and avoid turning to rival offerings “from Apple and Google”.
Zuckerberg has reportedly been “floating” the idea for months, but has been met with heavy opposition.
Instagram’s founders Kevin Systrom and Mike Krieger abandoned the company late last year, reportedly due to Zuckerberg’s increased grip on the app.
And WhatsApp founders Jan Koum and Brian Acton also left for similar reasons.
Zuckerberg is said to have “clashed with dozens of WhatsApp employees” over the merger during a staff meeting in December.
Part of the problem is that Facebook requires you to provide your real identity, while WhatsApp is often favoured for its anonymity.
Merging the messaging services could create a privacy headache.
Users may also be put off by the prospect of messages from long-forgotten Facebook friends turning up on WhatsApp, for instance.
According to the report, Zuckerberg still isn’t sure how to make money from the merger.
This article first appeared in The Sun and is republished with permission.