Pixel Envy

Written by Nick Heer.

Facebook Looks to Create Integrated Infrastructure for WhatsApp, Instagram and Messenger

Hannah Murphy and Hannah Kuchler, Financial Times:

Facebook is planning to link the messaging services of WhatsApp, Instagram and Facebook Messenger into one encrypted system, in the first major push to integrate the services since the founders of both WhatsApp and Instagram left the business. 

[…]

Mr Zuckerberg wants to incorporate end-to-end encryption into all of the messaging services, meaning only people sending and receiving messages are able to view them. Only WhatsApp currently has end-to-end encryption as default.

[…]

While some privacy activists may welcome the plans, they could alarm law enforcement, who have already raised concerns that WhatsApp’s end-to-end encryption enables criminals to communicate more easily and without detection, and also allows for the rapid spread of misinformation. 

I don’t know that any privacy activists are particularly thrilled about Facebook’s plan to have a gigantic pool of data entirely connected and inseparable on the back-end of three ostensibly different products. Also, it doesn’t make any sense why the last paragraph here ties rapidly-spreading misinformation to the availability of end-to-end encryption in WhatsApp.

A much more likely explanation for why Facebook would want to do this is to make it harder for an antitrust regulator to break the company up. Casey Newton:

Now if the government ever tries to force Facebook to spin off Instagram and WhatsApp, it can throw its hands up and protest that it’s ~actually~ all just one big app! Ruthless as ever.

Facebook has spent a great deal of time in pretty much every year of its existence trying to rebuild users’ trust after some catastrophe or another. The last couple of years, in particular, have been nothing but bad news for the company. Yet it continues to make decisions that are a constant fuck you to everyone outside of the company. What does it take for regulators to put a damper on their anticompetitive and exploitative practices?