Facebook plan to integrate its popular messaging services Facebook Messenger, WhatsApp and the message feature within Instagram. It will mean messages can be sent between them!
The merge won't result in there being one all encompassing Facebook Messenger app. Instead, all three of Messenger, Instagram and WhatsApp will remain stand-alone messaging services.
However, their background infrastructure will be modified. This is reportedly a complicated, time consuming process but work on it has already begun.
Messages between the three services would see a less fragmented messaging market. It would also result in more active users within the Facebook ecosystem.
Elsewhere, some users on Social Media took time to make a joke of the news.
Furthermore, a big part of the plan is to include end-to-end encryption. The addition of this would theoretically mean that only the communicating users can read the messages.
It should prevent anyone else from having the ability to read the messages, including Facebook themselves.
Consequently, a Facebook Messenger user would be able to send a fully encrypted message to someone on Instagram (or WhatsApp), and vice-versa.
The surprise plan is a backtrack on Mark Zuckerberg's previous stance in regards to the messaging apps. Originally, he said Instagram and WhatsApp operate separately from Facebook.
Since buying Instagram and Whatsapp in 2012 and 2014 respectively, the original founders of those apps have parted ways with Facebook.
Moreover, it has been reported that current WhatsApp employees were upset with this latest project. Regardless, the plan will go ahead.
The integration between the messaging will raise questions about data privacy.
Interestingly, Facebook and Instagram require users to provide real identities to user their services. Conversely, you can sign up to WhatsApp with just a phone number.
This could result in more security conscious users leaving the service. With that said, this would likely pail in comparison to the new users Facebook would gain.
The online messaging market somewhat fragmented at the moment. With different continents favoring particular messaging apps, this project is clearly part of a more long-term plan for Facebook to become the leading messaging service in the world.
The likes of Apple's iMessage and Tencent's WeChat will no doubt be taking notice.
The news was first reported by the NY Times.