Zuckerberg wants to create universal messenger for Facebook, WhatsApp and Instagram
Relatively recently, Mark Zuckerberg, who is the CEO of Facebook, announced his intention to create a multifunctional messaging service that will be used for several social networks at once, namely for Facebook, WhatsApp and Instagram. In this way, he will be able to increase control over all the projects that he owns, as well as ensure their more practical use, especially now when his business is exposed to various scandals related to data security.
Such development will not affect the operation of services that will continue to be stand-alone applications. It will affect only the basic technical infrastructure that will be unified and will provide an opportunity to combine three world popular social networks, the total number of users of which is more than 2.6 billion. For the first time, people will be able to exchange messages between different platforms without any problems.
This innovation will definitely change the way users communicate with each other using the application, and will also significantly strengthen Facebook’s position in controlling users, without fail affecting antitrust, confidentiality and security. So far, from the outside, it looks like Zuckerberg is trying to get power over the elements that he previously promised not to touch.
It is planned that the project, which is currently in its early stages, will be launched by the end of this year or at the beginning of 2020. However, today there is one global task – to make reconfiguration in Facebook, WhatsApp and Instagram, returning them to the basic level.
Moreover, it is planned to use the end-to-end encryption for all three social networks. This data transfer method provides users with not only a secure connection, but also with a high level of personal message protection – only the participants of the dialogue will be able to view the text of the messages.
Also, the statement said that Facebook wants to create a universal messenger that will allow people to exchange text messages quickly and simply without worrying about the security of their data. Therefore, the Facebook team is doing everything possible to ensure that the new project embodies all user wishes and is equipped with end-to-end encryption, thereby facilitating the process of maintaining communication with friends and family.
Having built a unified infrastructure for all three applications, Mark Zuckerberg is committed to strengthening Facebook’s position and creating high user involvement directly into the company’s ecosystem. In turn, such innovations will help retain people, reducing their interest in competing tools for messaging, such as Google and Apple are currently offering. Users will interact more and more actively with Facebook applications, thanks to this the company will receive all the necessary tools for developing and introducing new services and the opportunity to expand its advertising business.
Zuckerberg nursed the idea of creating something special and new during the last two years because at the same period Facebook has faced hard times – the company was constantly criticized for allowing the dissemination of false information and unacceptable interference in the elections. All these problems dealt a significant blow to Facebook reputation, and also caused a wave of discontent on the part of regulators and legislative bodies from around the world. Mark Zuckerberg took into account all the problems and thought about ways to eliminate them completely.
Developing a unified messaging service is a controversial decision, as by acquiring WhatsApp and Instagram, Facebook promised to preserve application independence. The new project negates the autonomy of companies, subjecting them to the general rules.
Since the purchase of WhatsApp and Instagram, their social positions have strengthened noticeably, which in turn Zuckerberg wanted to use. He considered that thanks to the tight integration of all services, the Facebook family of applications would be able to stand upright, becoming more versatile, useful and popular. Thus, Mark Zuckerberg began to promote his idea actively, focusing primarily on his employees.
Radical innovations brought a conflict, because of which the founders of WhatsApp – Jan Koum and Brian Acton, as well as the founders of Instagram – Kevin Systrom and Mike Krieger, decided to leave the companies. Internal processes were also affected by different misunderstandings – recently, several dozens of WhatsApp employees had clashes with Zuckerberg while working on integration on internal bulletin boards.
In addition to interpersonal problems, other incomprehensible issues related to user privacy began to appear, since so far there are no clear ideas about how data will be distributed between the three services. For example, WhatsApp requests only a phone number for registration, while Facebook wants to see the full details of the new user. Thus, the question of what kind of data people should provide is still open, because those who prefer to use the applications separately can be frightened off by the new rules.
However, Facebook is determined and understands the depth of this innovation. Such changes require a lot of time and discussion, especially if the goal is to create a high-quality, practical and reliable product.
Marc Rotenberg, who holds the position of president of the Electronic Privacy Information Center, expressed his concerns about the violation of privacy rights and freedom of choice, calling the idea of creating a unified messenger “a terrible outcome for internet users.” He asked the Federal Trade Commission, America de facto privacy regulator, to intervene in this process immediately in order to protect user privacy.
Ro Khanna, Democrat of California, also protested, stating that such a merger of the three companies is horizontal, which is unacceptable by the standards of antitrust control. Moreover, he expressed his opinion that “how different the world would be if Facebook had to compete with Instagram and WhatsApp.”
Statistics from different countries showed completely different results with respect to user preferences for certain text messaging services. For example, in China, WeChat is the most popular service, while in South America, users prefer WhatsApp. American society is divided in its views on the most practical application, as someone uses SMS, Apple’s iMessage, and someone finds Google chat rooms to be the most convenient.
Creating a universal messenger implies an increase in Facebook profits at the expense of Instagram and WhatsApp. Even despite the fact that both applications do not generate revenue from messages, but offer paid advertising, Zuckerberg plans to correct this situation in the future, although so far he hasn’t done any concrete actions. It all comes down to the result, which will directly affect the activity of the audience and its preferences. Therefore, no one denies the emergence of any new services or forms of advertising.
Today’s successful business development includes Facebook Marketplace, which is a free Craigslist-like service where users can sell and buy products. Nevertheless, it has found its particular popularity among residents of Southeast Asia and in markets outside the United States.
Thus, the integration of companies will provide more convenient conditions for using the Facebook Marketplace, as users from Southeast Asia will be able to communicate via the WhatsApp application, which is popular in the region, and not through Facebook Messenger or other competing services. In turn, the company will gain access to new opportunities for introducing advertising and auxiliary paid services that will bring tangible profits.
Despite such attractive predictions, some Facebook employees do not support such an idea, as when purchasing the company WhatsApp in 2014, Mark Zuckerberg promised independence and preservation of the service’s values, the most important of which is users privacy. Jan Koum stressed that it was the basement agreement that contributed to the successful collaboration with Facebook and signing the contract.
During one of the monthly meetings for staff members, Zuckerberg made it clear that application integration would be at the head of all other tasks in 2019. While analyzing the expected results, the data was far from waiting, since the rate of potential new users was at a low level.
A couple of days after the meeting, Mark Zuckerberg organized an unscheduled meeting with WhatsApp employees to hold a discussion about the upcoming changes and get more out of the staff. Thus, on December 7, a new meeting was held, at which employees asked direct questions regarding the integration of services. Mr. Zuckerberg answers did not satisfy everyone and as a result – several WhatsApp employees left the team because they did not share Zuckerberg’ views.
Application integration is a complex process, not only from a moral point of view but also at the level of technical features of infrastructures. For example, unlike Facebook Messenger and Instagram, WhatsApp uses end-to-end encryption by default, keeping the minimum amount of user data and not providing for archiving text messages.
Encrypted data is an excellent practice, as it minimizes the percentage of interference by third parties (government or hackers) in the privacy of users. Nevertheless, it causes problems for Facebook, which is struggling to eliminate disinformation on its platform, and this requires quick response mechanisms that monitor and prevent any illegal actions or intentions.
However, last year, WhatsApp faced unforeseen difficulties and took steps to control the process of spreading false information due to problems encountered in the presidential elections in Brazil. To prevent this kind of situation, the company has limited the number of messages that can be sent through the system.