Facebook wants to integrate WhatsApp, Instagram and Messenger and encrypt it all

Encrypt it all.
Encrypt it all.
Image: AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez
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Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg wants to integrate his company’s messaging services—WhatsApp, Messenger, and the direct messages in Instagram—into one, the New York Times reported today (Jan. 25). This means that like WhatsApp, Messenger and Instagram DMs would be encrypted.

The services would still be standalone apps, but it will be possible for users to send messages from one app to another. The apps would have to be completely re-designed, and it’s not clear how the system would work, but the Times’ reporting suggests it’s a priority for Zuckerberg. It’s supposed to be completed by the end of 2019 or in early 2020.

Facebook was not immediately available for comment.

The move is causing internal rifts at the company, the Times reports. It would be a massive technical and logistical undertaking, and employees aren’t convinced by the upsides, especially considering the longstanding philosophy of keeping the different apps separate. After the founders of both WhatsApp and Instagram left Facebook last year, Zuckerberg seems to be abandoning this approach. (WhatsApp co-founder Jan Koum left Facebook after clashes with the parent company over its attempts to include WhatsApp user information into the profiles Facebook and Instagram use for ad targeting.)

Integrating the apps would make users more engaged with the Facebook universe, Zuckerberg thinks, according to the Times. It could be a compelling approach for advertisers who would be interested in reaching so many people at once, but may leave unsettled users who enjoy the relative privacy of small WhatsApp chats or scrolling through Instagram photos undisturbed.