The lines between Facebook, Instagram, and WhatsApp are about to get blurry.
While the three would remain standalone apps, the integration would allow for communication between the services. A WhatsApp user, for example, would be able to message another user on Facebook Messenger. Such a move will require a massive reconfiguration of the apps, but Facebook reportedly plans to complete the effort by the end of this year or early 2020.
Notably, Zuckerberg is said to have ordered all the apps to include end-to-end encryption, which is now only used by WhatsApp. Incorporating encryption into the apps is intended to assuage some concerns around privacy, but the integration raises privacy issues of its own.
Signing up for WhatsApp currently only requires a phone number, while Facebook and Instagram users are required to provide more personal information to register. Integration may allow for information-sharing between the apps, potentially creating unease for users who prefer to keep their information private.
For its part, Facebook told The New York Times that it hopes to “build the best messaging experiences we can; and people want messaging to be fast, simple, reliable and private.” It added: “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.”
Facebook bought Instagram in 2012 and WhatsApp in 2014. At the time of their acquisition, Zuckerberg promised to allow the companies to continue to operate independently. But in recent years, clashes between the apps’ founders and Zuckerberg have resulted in their departure.