Merging Facebook Messenger, WhatsApp, and Instagram: a technical, reputational hurdle
Posted: February 7, 2019 by davidruiz
Secure messaging is supposed to be just that—secure. That means no backdoors, strong encryption, private messages staying private, and, for some users, the ability to securely communicate without giving up tons of personal data.
So, when news broke that scandal-ridden, online privacy pariah Facebook would expand secure messaging across its Messenger, WhatsApp, and Instagram apps, a broad community of cryptographers, lawmakers, and users asked: Wait, what?
Not only is the technology difficult to implement, the company implementing it has a poor track record with both user privacy and online security.
On January 25, the New York Times reported that Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg had begun plans to integrate the company’s three messaging platforms into one service, allowing users to potentially communicate with one another across its separate mobile apps. According to the New York Times, Zuckerberg “ordered that the apps all incorporate end-to-end encryption.”
The initial response was harsh.
Abroad, Ireland’s Data Protection Commission, which regulates Facebook in the European Union, immediately asked for an “urgent briefing” from the company, warning that previous data-sharing proposals raised “significant data protection concerns.”
In the United States, Democratic Senator Ed Markey for Massachusetts said in a statement: “We cannot allow platform integration to become privacy disintegration.”