According to the New York Times, Mark Zuckerberg intends on integrating Facebook's three messaging services, WhatsApp, Instagram and Messenger, by the end of 2019 or the beginning of 2020.
According to four people involved in the integration effort, the platforms will continue to operate as stand-alone apps. However, the underlying messaging services will be consolidated. Essentially, a Facebook Messenger user will be able to send messages to someone who only has WhatsApp, for example. The effort would also reinforce an added level of user privacy, with end-to-end encryption preventing anyone other than those sending messages to view the content.
In a statement, Facebook explained it wants to “build the best messaging experiences we can; and people want messaging to be fast, simple, reliable and private." The statement added, "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. 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.”
By creating a social ecosystem, Zuckerberg hopes to enhance the social network's utility and engagement, according to the unnamed sources. They added that this move might result in users abandoning competing messaging services offered by Apple and Google. The company may be able to profit off of the integration by stimulating a higher Facebook interaction rate.
Both WhatsApp and Instagram were independent companies before Facebook acquired them. Facebook bought WhatsApp in 2014 for $19 billion after purchasing Instagram in 2012 for only $715 million. The co-founders of Instagram stepped down from the company late last year after they reportedly experienced tensions with Facebook over the app's new direction.
Facebook, as well as Mark Zuckerberg, has been entangled in numerous scandals in recent years. In addition to the Cambridge Analytica data leak that resulted in the chief executive testifying before Congress, the social network has experienced additional data breaches and even a #DeleteFacebook campaign. It's unlikely that Zuckerberg's latest effort to increase Facebook's visibility will result in a scandal-free operation.