By Chloe Sladden Turner
Amidst the latest Facebook drama, surrounding hacking, fake news and harmful images; Facebook has revealed their initial plans to combine their social media apps.
In a BBC article, it is said: “All three [Facebook, Whatsapp and Instagram] will remain stand-alone apps, at a much deeper level they will be linked so messages can travel between the different services”.
It also says: “The work to merge the three elements has already begun, reported the NYT, and is expected to be completed by the end of 2019 or early next year”.
The BBC article, talks about what these initial plans mean for Facebook, in the What is Facebook’s Plan? Section by Chris Fox.
Chris Fox, comments: “ [That] Integrating the messaging parts might simplify Facebook’s work. It wouldn’t need to develop competing versions of the new feature”.
For example, the story feature across Facebook, WhatsApp and Instagram are not consistent by design with each other.
The article then quotes Mackena Kelly’s Verge article, which includes a part of Facebook’s statement about the matter, and it states: “We’re working on making more of our messaging products end-to-end encrypted and considering ways to make it easier to reach family and friends across networks”.
However, it appears there are concerns over Facebook’s integration plans, about data protection, according to according to the Guardian article by Alex Hern about EU Watchbag Concerns over Facebook’s Integration Plan. In the article, Alex suggests the concerns are due to Facebook trying to merge with WhatsApp only last year. The UK Information Commissioner deemed the plan illegal in March 2018 but in 2016, where the plan had been paused. The reason was suggested to be the sharing of personal data that would occur as a result and how or if Facebook used it to benefit their targeted advertising.
The Irish Data Commission, issued a statement, according to their role as the EU regulator of Facebook, and has said:
“[It will be] closely scrutinizing Facebook’s plans as they develop, particularly insofar, as they involved the sharing and merging of personal data between different Facebook companies.”
The press release concludes: “It must be emphasised that ultimately the proposed Integrating can only occur in the EU if it is capable of meeting all of the requirements of the GDPR”.
Facebook’s plan could only work if their end to end encryption on people’s private conversations follows through, something that people may like to have after the recent hacking and data sharing scandals with the social network. Not forgetting that they will need to meet those GDPR requirements and appease the Irish Data Commission.
If Facebook does succeed, then the plan to integrate with Instagram and WhatsApp will change, will make them stand out from the crowd, and assume a kind of status amongst other social media networks.