Last year, Chief Executive of Facebook, Mark Zuckerberg said that he wanted to put all their social media holdings under one umbrella. Instagram and WhatsApp have, for the most part, been their own separate entities. The apps themselves are distinctly different from each other but their parent company, according to NY Times, says the underlying architecture would be unified.
When this unification comes to fruition, the combined users of the all 3 (over 2.6 billion) will be able to communicate across platforms.
So how close is this to being a reality?
WhatsApp is different to the other two, in that it stores chat information on the user’s device. WhatsApp also has end to end chat encryption, these two factors make it difficult to integrate Facebook Messenger or even Instagram. This is one of the reasons why a WhatsApp account is locked to a single device at a time. (although WhatsApp is reportedly working on a feature to have one account logging in on multiple devices)
Facebook Messenger and Instagram
According to tweets by Alessandro Paluzzi (mobile developer at WATweaker) Instagram may be working on integrating Facebook Messenger.
This may or may not be Instagram integrating Facebook Messenger. This might just be something internal at Instagram. On this front we will have to for more information.
Facebook and WhatsApp
According WABetaInfo, Facebook created reference tables in a local database in order to manage messages and services.
There are elements that would allow Facebook Messenger to understand which contacts are blocked, push notifications from WhatsApp as well as details of a chat recipient.
The contents of the chats won’t be shared on to Facebook’s servers. They will however have to find a new protocol that in order to make a cross chat platform possible between WhatsApp and Messenger.
Will this be the end of WhatsApp’s end to end encryption?
According to WABetaInfo that’s unlikely. WhatsApp’s business is built on privacy, and continues on to say that Facebook Messenger will have to import the Signal protocol used by WhatsApp.
If this comes to be, can it be disabled?
This feature as convenient as it may be, is something that users should be able to disable. There is no indication yet that this is something users will be able to turn off.
Some people prefer to keep the events and conversations on different platforms to remain separate.
So to answer the question, there is progress but there are considerable stumbling blocks. It might be something we may not see for some time.
It should also be noted, that since all of this is still in development the direction or outcome of the merger may change.