Facebook is planning to merge the chat functions of Instagram, Messenger and WhatsApp into one app. Each of the services will remain as standalone apps, however
The company is still in the early stages of the work and plans to complete it by the end of this year or in early 2020, the report said.
After the changes, a Facebook user, for instance, will be able send an encrypted message to someone who has only a WhatsApp account, according to the report.
End-to-end encryption protects messages from being viewed by anyone except the participants in the conversation.
Thousands of Facebook employees will likely be working on the effort, as it requires them to reconfigure how the apps ‘function at their most basic levels,’ according to the Times.
Facebook expects it to be a ‘long process,’ however.
‘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,’ a Facebook spokesperson told CNBC.
The move to integrate the apps was reportedly led by Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg. It’s already been widely criticized inside the company with some staffers threatening to leave
‘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.’
The move is being widely viewed as a way for the company to ensure that users continue to be tapped into the Facebook ecosystem, which includes the main Facebook app, its Messenger chat service, photo-sharing app Instagram and the encrypted messaging app WhatsApp.
It may also help Facebook find more ways to drum up advertising revenue, the Times noted.
Facebook acquired Instagram for $1 billion in 2012, then WhatsApp for $19 billion in 2014.
Zuckerberg long maintained that he aimed to keep the services separate, but now believes that integrating the chat services will benefit the entire ‘family of apps,’ according to the Times.
FACEBOOK’S PRIVACY DISASTERS
Facebook in late September disclosed that it had been hit by its worst ever data breach, affecting 50 million users – including those of Facebook boss Mark Zuckerberg and COO Sheryl Sandberg.
Attackers exploited the site’s ‘View As’ feature, which lets people see what their profiles look like to other users.
The unknown attackers took advantage of a feature in the code called ‘Access Tokens,’ to take over people’s accounts, potentially giving hackers access to private messages, photos and posts – although Facebook said there was no evidence that had been done.
The hackers also tried to harvest people’s private information, including name, sex and hometown, from Facebook’s systems.
Facebook said it doesn’t yet know if information from the affected accounts has been misused or accessed, and is working with the FBI to conduct further investigations.
However, Mark Zuckerberg assured users that passwords and credit card information was not accessed.
Facebook says it has found no evidence ‘so far’ that hackers broke into third-party apps after a data breach exposed 50 million users (stock image)
As a result of the breach, the firm logged roughly 90 million people out of their accounts earlier today as a security measure.
Facebook made headlines earlier this year after the data of 87 million users was improperly accessed by Cambridge Analytica, a political consultancy.
The disclosure has prompted government inquiries into the company’s privacy practices across the world, and fueled a ‘#deleteFacebook’ movement among consumers.
Communications firm Cambridge Analytica had offices in London, New York, Washington, as well as Brazil and Malaysia.
The company boasts it can ‘find your voters and move them to action’ through data-driven campaigns and a team that includes data scientists and behavioural psychologists.
‘Within the United States alone, we have played a pivotal role in winning presidential races as well as congressional and state elections,’ with data on more than 230 million American voters, Cambridge Analytica claims on its website.
The company profited from a feature that meant apps could ask for permission to access your own data as well as the data of all your Facebook friends.
The data firm suspended its chief executive, Alexander Nix (pictured), after recordings emerged of him making a series of controversial claims, including boasts that Cambridge Analytica had a pivotal role in the election of Donald Trump
This meant the company was able to mine the information of 87 million Facebook users even though just 270,000 people gave them permission to do so.
This was designed to help them create software that can predict and influence voters’ choices at the ballot box.
The data firm suspended its chief executive, Alexander Nix, after recordings emerged of him making a series of controversial claims, including boasts that Cambridge Analytica had a pivotal role in the election of Donald Trump.
This information is said to have been used to help the Brexit campaign in the UK.
It has also suffered several previous issues.
2013, Facebook disclosed a software flaw that exposed 6 million users’ phone numbers and email addresses to unauthorized viewers for a year, while a technical glitch in 2008 revealed confidential birth-dates on 80 million Facebook users’ profiles.
The move has reportedly angered some employees inside the company, with several staffers threatening to the leave the company as a result of the app integration.
At the same time, it’s likely to raise privacy concerns for some users who preferred to keep their activity on one app separate from the others.
Facebook has had a tumultuous year as it dealt with the fallout from its many privacy scandals.
Last March, Facebook revealed that some 87 million users’ data had been harvested and shared with Trump-affiliated campaign research firm Cambridge Analytica.
Then, in September, it suffered its ‘worst data breach ever’ as hackers stole the digital login codes of approximately 50 million users.
It has also faced scrutiny around the spread of disinformation on its platform.