Facebook is not shy when it comes to buying companies. The social network giant has bought companies like Oculus in the past in order to expand their sphere of influence. Owning three of the largest messaging apps puts Facebook in a very unique position.
The decision to unify the messaging infrastructure has huge implications for users of each platform. Somebody on Facebook without an Instagram account could send a message to someone on Instagram without a Facebook account. Currently, this is impossible, as Facebook has promised Instagram and WhatsApp autonomy from their parent company.
However, the growth of Instagram and WhatsApp appears to have prompted a change in Mark Zuckerberg’s thinking. The philosophy now appears to be that the unification of messaging infrastructure will be extremely beneficial for the three companies alike.
That being said, the three apps will still remain as standalone apps, and things like UI will remain largely unchanged. The only change that’s being made is, as mentioned above, you will be able to send messages cross-platform. More importantly, though, is that all three apps would use end-to-end encryption by default, a feature only WhatsApp has enabled currently.
The idea is, of course, not without faults. There are concerns about the privacy of users and how their information will be shared between apps. There’s potential that, if one app is breached, the other two will be cracked wide open. Facebook has thus far been tight-lipped about exactly how the apps will be integrated.
The project is still in its early stages, but plans are in place that aim to have it completed by 2020. Facebook said that “there is a lot of discussion and debate as we begin the long process of figuring out all the details of how this will work”.
Facebook is certainly ambitious, and it remains to be seen if this unification will make any significant difference for users in the long term.