Facebook follows WeChat by going all-in
Facebook has announced its intention to integrate WhatsApp, Instagram and its Messenger app. While all three will remain as standalone apps, the services will be linked, so that you can send message across platforms.
The messaging app merger will redefine how the 2.6 billion people that collectively use these apps connect with each other.
By announcing the merger, Facebook is signalling its intention to move towards what could be called the ‘WeChat model’.
WeChat is a multi-purpose app developed for the Chinese market by Tencent. It has 902 million daily active users and has been described by tech publications and experts as a global ‘super-app’.
WeChat allows users to send messages, mobile payments, order car rides, order food and even operates as a social media network. It is essentially like Facebook, Uber, WhatsApp and PayPal all fused into one service.
Facebook’s move to the beginnings of a similar model makes sense from a development perspective. It gives the company greater control over its users and creates a closed system of its apps that will help it fight off competition from other messaging services.
However, Facebook’s move to the WeChat model is likely to raise concerns about privacy and data security.
WeChat, for example, is required to share all the data that it collects from its app’s 902 million users with the Chinese government.
Concentrating control over the data of 2.6 billion users into a single organisation like Facebook – a company that has already faced government inquiries on data privacy and user information – is bound to bring even more scrutiny from regulators and politicians.
The Irish Data Protection Commission has already issued a request to Facebook for an “urgent briefing” on the proposed changes.
Facebook is still in the early stages of implementing this change, with the project estimated to be completed by late 2019 or the start of 2020.
Whether it can complete the move to the WeChat model remains to be seen.
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Chinmay Jadhav is a Content Manager at Formative Content.