Facebook’s new vision: Cross-platform messaging between Instagram, Whatsapp and Messenger

Facebook is moving closer to integrate the three stand alone apps Instagram, Whatsapp and Messenger according to an announcement by Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerburg on Wednesday.
The goal of the multiyear plan is to make the social networking site more connected and “privacy-focused,” according to Zuckerberg.
Under the new infrastructure, the three applications would remain distinct while allowing users to chat with one another, regardless of their platform.
Zuckerberg said in a blog post that he believes that private, encrypted communication will be the most popular way that people interact in the future.

“As I think about the future of the internet, I believe a privacy-focused communications platform will become even more important than today’s open platforms,” Zuckerberg wrote. “I expect future versions of Messenger and WhatsApp to become the main ways people communicate on the Facebook network.”
Part of the plan calls for each of the apps to be encrypted so no one could see the contents of the messages except for the sender and recipients.
WhatsApp already has that security function, but Facebook’s other messaging apps don’t.
The announcement comes on the heels of years of scandals surrounding the social network. Facebook has come under fire for the way it handles people’s data, as well as for its role in enabling fake news across its platform during the 2016 presidential election.

“Many people don’t think Facebook can or would even want to build this kind of privacy-focused platform – because frankly we don’t currently have a strong reputation for building privacy protective services,” Zuckerberg wrote in the blog post.
To execute the new plan, which is in its early stages, the social networking behemoth is consulting with experts, advocates and governments – including law enforcement and regulators – around the world.
The shift creates an opportunity for people who sell items using Facebook’s Marketplace to message potential buyers securely. It also opens up the possibility of sending payments across platforms.

“Loads of people selling items on Marketplace give their contact number so people can message them about purchasing it.” That’s not ideal, Zuckerberg said because you’re giving strangers your phone number. However, you would be able to receive messages using Whatsapp which are sent to your Facebook account without sharing your phone number.

To keep the information around for shorter periods of time
The new focus also means that more content can automatically expire or be archived over time so it doesn’t become a liability later.
For example, messages could be deleted after a month or a year by default, and there could be options for you to set individual messages to expire after a few minutes if you wanted.
“We do believe that it’s important to keep the information around for shorter periods of time,” said Zuckerberg in a blog post.
Some tech experts remain skeptical that the social media giant will do enough to recover from its spotty privacy reputation.
“He has proved time and again that Facebook is perfectly willing to sacrifice users’ private data and security in the pursuit of profit.”
Others who are wary of how the tech firm handles user data say that Facebook’s pivot is a step in the right direction.
“Strong privacy safeguards for Facebook users are long overdue. So, we are pleased to see the announcement,” said Marc Rotenberg, president of the Electronic Privacy Information Center, known as EPIC.
In January, a coalition of advocacy groups sent a letter to the Federal Trade Commission asking regulators to “unwind the acquisition of WhatsApp and Instagram.” Unraveling the social media sites would restore competition and innovation for Internet messaging and photo app services, according to the coalition.
The FTC is currently investigating Facebook for allegedly violating an agreement it had with the U.S. government to keep its users’ data private.

Shared data
Zuckerberg is reportedly pushing the three standalone apps combining plan to make its trinity of services more useful and increase the amount of time people spend on them.
By effectively joining all its users into one massive group Facebook could compete more effectively with Google’s messaging services and Apple’s iMessage, suggested Makena Kelly on tech news site The Verge.
There were loads of discussions and debates about the actual working of the system.
Instagram and WhatsApp operating as largely independent companies till now, linking all the three systems will mark an incredible change at facebook.  

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