Facebook CEO, Mark Zuckerberg is planning to integrate WhatsApp, Instagram and Facebook Messenger services while incorporating end-to-end encryption into these apps. The three services will, however, continue as stand-alone apps.
Facebook said it is working on adding end-to-end encryption, which protects messages from being viewed by anyone except the participants in a conversation, to more of its messaging products, and considering ways to make it easier for users to connect across networks.
After the changes, a Facebook user, for instance, will be able send an encrypted message to someone who has only a WhatsApp account.
Some former Facebook security engineers and an outside encryption expert said the plan could be good news for user privacy, in particular by extending end-to-end encryption.
However, the technology does not always conceal metadata – information about who is talking to whom – sparking concern among some researchers that the data might be shared.
Any metadata integration likely will let Facebook learn more about users, linking identifiers such as phone numbers and email addresses for those using the services independently of each other.
Facebook could use that data to charge more for advertising and targeted services, although it also would have to forgo ads based on message content in Messenger and Instagram.
Messenger allows strangers to contact people without knowing their phone numbers, for example, increasing the risk of stalking and approaches to children.
Systems based on phone numbers have additional privacy concerns, because governments and other entities can easily extract location information from them.
Credit: Digital Street SA