Facebook to integrate WhatsApp and Instagram: Good or Bad?
If you’ve not heard about the latest Facebook proposed advancement, where have you been? New York Times recently announced that, social media giant, Facebook, plans on integrating the infrastructure of WhatsApp, Instagram and Facebook Messenger to create a unique messaging experience for billions of users around the world. The plans state that whilst the popular social platforms will remain separate, users will have the freedom to chat with one another without needing to switch applications. Sounds great, right?
Whilst many are intrigued and supporting this exciting news, there have been a swarming amount of questions regarding data protection, damaging the individuality of apps, not to mention the contradiction of Mark Zuckerburg’s past comments…
In 2012 when Facebook bought Instagram for a whopping $1bn, Zuckerberg declared in his official statement “we believe these are different experiences that complement each other. But in order to do this well, we need to be mindful about keeping and building on Instagram’s strengths and features rather than just trying to integrate everything into Facebook. That’s why we’re committed to building and growing Instagram independently.” Comparing this statement against Facebook’s recent user decline, poses the question – Is Mark Zuckerburg simply attempting to save the sinking ship that is Facebook?
What Does This Mean For User Privacy?
It’s no surprise that the focus of the conversation is quickly turning to what this now means for user privacy. In 2017, Facebook was hit with a €110m fine by the European Union for being ambiguous about how it linked Facebook and WhatsApp data. The merging of the platforms is likely to help Facebook create a single database for users, as WhatsApp identifies users by their phone numbers and Facebook asks users to provide their real identities. Zuckerberg is trying to set the record straight and explain that this isn’t an invasion of privacy, but a way of creating a more targeted marketing structure. He recently stated in the Wall Street Journal “people consistently tell us that if they’re going to see ads, they want them to be relevant.” So if you’re sick of seeing dishwasher ads everyday, maybe this could benefit you…
Despite the concerns, Facebook is proposing to add end-to-end encryption for Instagram and Facebook messages by default. This would help reassure users that their conversations will be kept private despite the merge. But can we trust Facebook with one of our favourite messaging apps after its recent data privacy scandals?
You may have noticed that Facebook and Instagram are becoming more integrated with subtle additions being added such as being able to share Instagram pictures with your Facebook friends, and having the option of inviting Facebook friends to follow you on Instagram. Clearly Facebook has been aiming to slowly merge the two platforms for a while now. From a marketing perspective, broadening this link to WhatsApp makes perfect sense. With messaging becoming increasingly popular, the integration could offer a whole new range of opportunities for marketers to connect with a much broader audience.
Just like any major change in an app, it takes a while for the user to adjust – a perfect example being the 2018 Snapchat update! However, we believe that this format of cross communication will be a major development in how we communicate online and allow room for both the older and younger generation to communicate more easily across the platforms that work for them. Either way we’re extremely excited to see what develops over the coming months.