Facebook Chief Executive Mark Zuckerberg is planning to unify the underlying messaging infrastructure of the WhatsApp, Instagram and Facebook Messenger services, according to a Reuters report which cited a the New York Times article.
According to the report, the move is to enhance end-to-end encryption into these apps.
The three services will, however, continue as stand-alone apps, the report said, citing four people involved in the effort.
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.
“There is a lot of discussion and debate as we begin the long process of figuring out all the details of how this will work,” a spokesperson said.
After the changes, a Facebook user, for instance, will be able send an encrypted message to someone who has only a WhatsApp account, according to the New York Times report.
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.
The work to merge elements of the three apps has already begun and is expected to be completed by the end of 2019 or early next year, said the New York Times.
Once complete, the merger would mean that a Facebook user could communicate directly with someone who only has a WhatsApp account. This is currently impossible as the applications have no common core.