Facebook has recently announced bold plans to merge its messaging services across Messenger, Instagram and WhatsApp, so they’re interoperable across all platforms.
Why? Well, in a statement to The New York Times, the social media giant claimed they want to “build the best messaging experiences” for the billions of users who use these Facebook-owned apps.
This was backed-up by Mark Zuckerberg’s latest Facebook post, in which he said one of Facebook’s priorities for 2019 would be to deliver “new experiences that meaningfully improve people’s lives.” He highlighted that messaging is that one of the areas that’s growing most quickly for them, and that it will become the “centre of users’ social experience in more ways”.
An exact date hasn’t been set for the transition, but it’s expected to be early next year.
So, what does this mean for users?
On the face of it, the change will make life easier for users. You won’t have to switch between apps to chat to people and, if Facebook delivers on its aim to incorporate end-to-end encryption, your chats will be more secure.
Are there any pitfalls?
In their statement, Facebook said: “people want messaging to be fast, simple, reliable and private. 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.”
However, thanks to Facebook’s previous user data scandals, the move is ringing alarm bells for privacy experts.
Currently, only WhatsApp provides end-to-end encryption (where only you, and the person you’re messaging can see what’s been sent). This feature is available in Messenger, but only if you switch on the ‘secret conversations’ function and it isn’t available on Instagram at all.
Privacy experts are questioning how Facebook will handle end-to-end encryption once the infrastructure of all apps have been stitched together.
From a user’s perspective, some people may not want all three apps having access to their information, too. For example, on WhatsApp, you only need a telephone number to register, whereas on Facebook you must use your real name.
What about businesses, will there be any benefits?
As it stands, a Facebook insider hass claimed that Zuckerberg has no plans to monetise the feature as of yet. But, as we all know, most new features end up generating revenue for them at some point.
Merging conversations across all three platforms has the potential to redefine how billions of people connect with each other, and will undoubtedly make audiences more engaged. It’s almost certain that this will result in new forms of advertising, and could possibly make selling on Facebook much easier for online retailers.
It’s still early days, so we’re sure Facebook will iron out any privacy issues and - in time - will announce how the change can be of interest to advertisers. We’ll be sure to keep a close eye on how this one plays out!
Like learning about what’s new in the world of digital marketing? Check out this blog post which discusses the digital marketing trends for 2019.