October 1, 2020 8:34:07 AM
Facebook Inc. said some users can now send messages between Messenger and Instagram – the first step towards a full integration of the company’s three different social media services.
Stan Chudnowski, Messenger’s vice president, said executives were considering adding a limited edition version of Messenger to Facebook’s main application as a way to encourage new users to communicate with other people without having to download a special app. Messenger was originally part of Facebook’s flagship app, but was acquired in 2014 despite pushback from users.
Chief Executive Officer Mark Zuckerberg announced plans to integrate Messenger, Instagram and WhatsApp in early 2019. Facebook portrayed the interoperability effort as an advantage for users, claiming that it would eventually allow them to send messages to a wider group of people from the service of their choice. This will benefit Facebook’s business by giving users more reason to interact with the company’s products and making the messaging network more valuable.
Zuckerberg said commerce is a top priority for the company and relies on messaging for communication between businesses and buyers. Critics argue that if anti-trust regulators try and force it, it will make it harder for Facebook to break down.
Facebook executives have warned that the project is a major technology initiative and will take years to complete, as the plan is to encrypt all messages between the three services.
Starting on Messenger and Instagram, the company has been testing the ability to send messages between the two since the summer. It will start releasing the feature to all users in the coming weeks.
But this is only a first step, and end-to-end encryption is not yet included. Messenger offers a secure option called “secret chat”, but the encryption level is not available as part of the update with Instagram, Chudnowski said. WhatsApp messages are already encrypted, which means that Facebook needs to build that functionality into messenger-instagram conversations before enabling communication between the three apps.
“The full timeline is a little over – we’m not halfway there yet,” Chudnovsky said in an interview. “It will take some time. We have not been here for over a year now, and everything is set and done. Chudnovsky said that if Facebook decides to build messaging to the flagship application in the future, it will limit itself to reducing its size and complexity.
“We’re wondering what lightweight messaging can look like inside the blue app,” Chudnovsky said.
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