Mark Zuckerberg, Facebook’s CEO, has outlined a polarizing strategy aimed at unifying the company’s three primary social media platforms, which are utilized by over 2.6 billion people.
The social media behemoth announced that it had started a “long process” to integrate its three most popular apps, with a deadline of the end of this year or early 2020.
Thousands of Facebook personnel are expected to reorganize how WhatsApp, Instagram, and Facebook Messenger work at their most fundamental levels as part of the initiative.
For the first time, Facebook wants to merge the underlying architecture of WhatsApp, Instagram, and Facebook Messenger into a single infrastructure, allowing users to conduct cross-application interactions for the first time — a move that social media fans have been eagerly anticipating.
Mr. Zuckerberg, the company’s beleaguered CEO, wants to “raise Facebook’s utility and keep consumers strongly engaged inside the company’s ecosystem.” The end goal is most likely to lower the demand for competing for texting services like those offered by Apple and Google.
The New York Times said, citing anonymous sources, that if users interact more regularly with Facebook’s apps, the corporation may be able to boost its advertising business or add new revenue-generating services.
On the other side of the raging debate over Facebook’s market practices, tech commentators argue that combining the three messaging apps has the potential to redefine how billions of people connect with one another while strengthening Facebook’s grip on user data – bringing up antitrust, privacy, and security issues once again.
The move is being lauded as an efficiency enhancement to increase “Facebook’s utility and keep people highly engaged,” but it also underscores Facebook’s Mr. Zuckerberg’s continuous trend of centralization by imposing his authority onto units he previously swore to leave alone.
When Facebook paid around US$19 billion (A$26 billion) for WhatsApp in 2014, it was the largest takeover in social media history at the time, with 450 million monthly users. WhatsApp co-founder Jan Koum responded to criticisms that the company had lost its roots and principles by saying, “If partnering with Facebook meant we had to change our values, we wouldn’t have done it.”
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However, things have altered in the last five years.
Mr. Zuckerberg’s insistence on unifying Facebook’s bewildering array of functions has “created conflict within Facebook,” according to the report.
Kevin Systrom and Mike Krieger, the founders of Instagram, quit the firm last year after Mr. Zuckerberg “began weighing in more.”
Mr. Koum and Brian Acton, WhatsApp’s co-founders, both left due to internal conflicts over business operations and clashing views about serving social media users.
More recently, scores of WhatsApp employees battled with Mr. Zuckerberg on internal message boards and during a tense staff meeting in December over the integration plan.
One of the worries with Facebook’s merger of WhatsApp, Instagram, and its own Facebook Messenger service is that each requires users to sign up under different circumstances. WhatsApp requests users’ phone numbers; however, Facebook goes a step farther and asks for physical identification. The fear is that by combining these three services, Facebook will further consolidate its already vast influence over 2 billion user profiles.
This might put millions of people in a scenario where their genuine identities are revealed across platforms, revealing their broader social media activity and putting a face to a name — an outcome that many users would prefer to avoid.
From past to present
Last year, Facebook was accused of helping to impact political elections after a devastating privacy scandal showed that it was actively quarterbacking user data to third-party private corporations.
Mr. Zuckerberg was summoned to testify before the US Congress, where he was interrogated frequently by lawmakers — a process that has undoubtedly shifted Facebook’s focus away from developing better security measures and away from its revenue-draining business model.
Other Internet behemoths, including Facebook, have begun to experience what some refer to as “user growth burnout.” Consistently high rates of user expansion had to come to a halt at some point.
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Investors watched the value of Facebook and Twitter plummet in July last year as a result of disappointing corporate results, which some market pundits interpreted as suggesting “bifurcation” among social media prices, including the so-called FANG companies (Facebook, Amazon, Netflix, and Google).
To put it another way, social media prices may have peaked.
With Facebook working harder to solidify its market position through both privacy and security changes, as well as the concentration of its most popular programs across the board, the firm plainly wants to stand out. Even if it means upsetting a couple of individuals in the process.