Facebook is reportedly planning to merge Instagram, Messenger and WhatsApp.
If you’re like me, the first thought to cross your mind when reading this headline might have been ‘well, isn’t that what Facebook was originally?’
Back in the day, the internet giant was the coolest place to share photos, while also being an efficient way to send messages. It was basically your one-stop shop for social media once you’d moved on from Myspace or Bebo, and it was the first site people logged on to after coming home from school.
That is, until everything moved to the smartphone and the company decided to make Messenger its own app, challenging WhatsApp for the crown for instant messaging. On top of that, with the rise of Instagram people just didn’t really care about statuses any more.
Fast-forward to today and we have three separate apps, all owned by Facebook. But now, the social media giant is reportedly planning to merge the messaging services of the three platforms, so that we end up with, well, still three separate apps.
Allow me to explain.
According to the The New York Times, thousands of Facebook employees will be working to reconfigure how WhatsApp, Instagram and Facebook Messenger function at their most basic levels.
The work will unify the messaging services of the different apps, but they will remain as three separate entities.
Once the changes have been made, a Messenger user would be able to, for example, send a message to someone who only has a WhatsApp account.
So as far as I can tell, you’ll still be able to look at pictures on Instagram and send messages on WhatsApp or Messenger, but once the apps have been merged you’ll be able to message anyone with one of those accounts using the messaging system of your preference.
Do you follow?
By merging the apps, Facebook’s chief executive Mark Zuckerberg hopes to increase the utility of the social network by keeping its billions of users engaged and connected inside Facebook’s own ecosystem.
The move would hopefully encourage users to choose Facebook over competitors like Google or Apple.
The news comes from four people involved in the effort, who spoke to The New York Times about the project. According to them, Facebook is still in the early stages of the work and plans to complete it by the end of this year or in early 2020.
But who knows, by this time next year there could be a whole new super-app which captures our attention, rendering Instagram, Messenger and WhatsApp pointless.
Then again, Facebook would probably just take over that one, too.
According to insiders, Zuckerberg has also ordered all of the apps to incorporate end-to-end encryption, a step which would protect messages from being viewed by anyone except those in the conversation.
A company spokesperson released a statement on the matter to CNBC, saying:
[Facebook wants to] build the best messaging experiences we can; and people want messaging to be fast, simple, reliable and private.
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.
We’ll have to wait and see if the changes make a big difference to the way we send messages.
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Emily Brown first began delivering important news stories aged just 13, when she launched her career with a paper round. She graduated with a BA Hons in English Language in the Media from Lancaster University, and went on to become a freelance writer and blogger. Emily contributed to The Sunday Times Travel Magazine and Student Problems before becoming a journalist at UNILAD, where she works on breaking news as well as longer form features.