This latest bit of news is still a big rumor but already people are reacting negatively to the whispers that Mark Zuckerberg is planning to integrate his company’s three biggest products: Facebook Messenger, Instagram, and WhatsApp. Not only are privacy advocates and ordinary users not thrilled with this possible development, but it has also reportedly caused internal strife as the chief executive will supposedly go back on his previous word to leave the acquired companies alone and independent from Facebook.

While the three will still exist as stand-alone products, Zuckerberg has given the directive that to unify them under one technical infrastructure that should be able to get users to message people across all three platforms. Messenger, Instagram, and WhatsApp have over 2.6 billion users between them and are three of the largest messaging networks in the world. But of course there are various antritrust, privacy, and security issues that need to be resolved, especially given Facebook’s track record the past few years.

One of the moves that they are supposedly making to ensure the privacy of users is to apply end-to-end encryption across the three messaging apps. Currently, only WhatsApp does that. While it does sound good for Messenger and Instagram users, it will also prevent Facebook from monitoring content like fake news, abusive behavior, etc, stuff of which they have faced criticism for allowing on the main Facebook platform.

Facebook will of course be the “winner” in case this pushes through as the numbers for the main app have been dwindling even as Instagram and WhatsApp continue to be consistent with theirs. Stitching the three together will keep users within the ecosystem and might also increase their advertising business. The hope is probably to keep them highly engaged that they wouldn’t want to switch to other rival apps.

We can’t blame people for being worried rather than excited about this possible integration, especially given privacy concerns about how data will be shared across the three services. Rumors are that the technical part should be done by end of the year or early 2020, but more importantly, we would need to see how Facebook plans to protect its users while at the same time giving them a seamless experience with Messenger, Instagram, and WhatsApp.

VIA: The New York Times