Facebook’s chief executive has revealed plans to integrate the backend for messaging on three of social media’s biggest players; WhatsApp, Facebook Messenger and Instagram.
Over the next few months, Mark Zuckerberg has announced that while the three platforms will remain stand-alone apps, the new integration will allow them to be linked so that messages can travel between the different apps. For example, an Instagram user will be able to message a WhatsApp user without switching services. In order to do this, the integration will involve rewriting the basic software of all three apps to ensure they are compatible moving forwards.
Another important feature involving the rewrite is enabling end-to-end encryption (E2E) on all apps. WhatsApp is currently the only platform that uses this feature as standard, preventing anyone intercepting the contents of messages. Facebook Messenger only supports the E2E feature if the user enables the ‘secure conversations’ mode, which is set to off as default and must be activated on every separate chat, whilst Instagram has no encryption features at all.
However, although E2E has beneficial security measures for users, there are negatives attached as E2E will essentially be preventing Facebook from scanning messages as part of its own advertising scheme. The technology has also come under fire from law enforcement agencies as E2E will obstruct their power to intercept suspect communications in real time. Another major concern of privacy researchers is that WhatsApp could become less secure, rather than Facebook and Instagram becoming as secure as possible because the current WhatsApp user doesn’t need to share much personal data with Facebook, but once the changes have been made, they may find their data combined with their Facebook accounts.
In my opinion there are huge pros and cons to Facebook’s integration plan. Although having Messenger, WhatsApp and Instagram interoperable, meaning simple and seamless messaging – is it worth the potential risks of sharing personal data, which Facebook has been scrutinised for mishandling a few months ago. What are your thoughts on Mark Zuckerberg’s platform merge?