The world’s largest social media site, Facebook, has recently revealed that it plans to integrate its messaging tools into a number of other popular social sites it controls.
Facebook intends to bring together its services with messaging site WhatsApp, photo-sharing platform Instagram and standalone messaging service Messenger. All three of these are owned by Facebook, which will make the integration possible.
Speaking about this decision, Facebook has stated that each of the three services will remain as standalone apps, but will be linked at a deeper level so that messages are able to travel between each of the services.
It has been reported that Facebook has explained that this will be a long process, and it is about to get underway. Some base work to merge the three elements has begun according to the New York Times, and it is expected to take the rest of the year to complete, with an expected completion date being set for the end of this year, or the start of 2020.
Furthermore, the New York Times reports that the move to integrate the sites is the personal project of Facebook Co-Founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg.
Once the integration has been fully implemented, a user of Facebook would be able to communicate with a friend, colleague or family member who only has an Instagram account, or a WhatsApp profile. Essentially, the recipient does not need to have a Facebook account to be contacted by someone through the social media site. At present, this is impossible, as the apps have no common core.
It is believed that Zuckerberg is pushing this merger in order to make the three services more useful and to increase the time spent on them by users.
Facebook released a statement relating to the plans, in which it stated that it wanted to build the best possible messaging experiences it could, explaining that it wanted people to be able to message in a fast, reliable, simple and private way. It continued that the company wanted to add end-to-end encryption to services where possible, which is already incorporated onto WhatsApp, while making it easier for users to reach their family and friends across multiple networks.
Linking these networks would mark a significant change at Facebook because up until now it has let both WhatsApp and Instagram operate largely as independent entities, meaning that there has been a lot of discussion about how this system would actually work.
The decision to integrate the three platforms comes at a time where Facebook has faced multiple investigations and come under intense scrutiny for the way it has been handling and safeguarding its users’ personal data, including an investigation by the UK Information Commissioner investigating how much data is actually shared between Facebook and WhatsApp. This announcement could therefore prompt more regulators to take another look into Facebook’s data handling protocols.