The plan to link Facebook-owned messaging systems and make them inter-operable was confirmed Wednesday by the social network as a way to offer more secure, encrypted messages on all platforms.
But it’s worth knowing that the controversial integration of Instagram, Messenger and WhatsApp will not take place until at least 2020, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg has revealed.
Facebook first confirmed the merger last week following a report that the underlying messaging infrastructure of all the apps would be unified to create “the best messaging experiences” for their billions of users.
The move was originally expected to take place towards the end of this year or early next year, though Mark Zuckerberg said during the company’s quarterly earnings call that it was still in its early stages.
Despite assertions from the technology giant that the integration would deliver a messaging platform that is private and end-to-end encrypted, data experts warn it could have an impact on people’s privacy.
“The integration that we’re thinking about, we’re really early in thinking through this,” he said, without specifying a date for when it might take place. “There’s a lot more we need to figure out.”
Facebook said that around 2.7 billion people now use Facebook, Instagram, WhatsApp, or Messenger each month and that Facebook itself has 1.52 billion average daily users.
Despite the many security breaches and hacks of 2018 that caused Facebook to apologize many times, the woes did not negatively impact the bottom line.
Privacy expert Tim Mackey, who works for the software firm Synopsys, said the app integration is especially concerning given Facebook’s “spotty history” with its treatment of user data.
“Merging personal information and privacy configuration from three significant applications won’t be trivial. Facebook development teams would do well to look at this precedent and prioritise user privacy,” Mr MacKey told The Independent.
“With the integration project currently expected to take a year to complete, and with end-to-end encryption as part of the plan, we should expect the Facebook engineering teams to focus attention on uniform data security both in their platform and in the apps themselves.”
In response to such privacy concerns, Facebook said in a statement:
“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. As you would expect, 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.”