A bombshell report late last week revealed that Mark Zuckerberg and Co. are considering a massive overhaul of Facebook’s instant messaging apps which include two top-rated chat apps (Messenger and WhatsApp) and the chat version of Instagram. The plan, according to the report, consists of ensuring that a user belonging of any of the three apps above would be able to get in touch with any other user, without having to register an account on a different social network to do so. The plan might seem brilliant if you forget that Facebook is behind it, and Facebook’s doesn’t act unless it can monetize everything down the road. But there may be an unexpected silver lining in all of this: Facebook’s sort-of unified messaging system might convince you to finally drop Facebook for good.
Before you freak out about Facebook uniting Messenger, WhatsApp, and Instagram under the same roof — especially if you’re using WhatsApp — you should know that the three chat apps aren’t going away and that WhatsApp isn’t losing its end-to-end encryption. That’s a feature not available on Messenger by default, although you can use it in Secret chats.
But, according to The New York Times report, Zuckerberg ordered that all the apps incorporate end-to-end encryption. That should be great news for anyone worried about Facebook’s spying of messages.
It’s unclear when the three chat apps will be unified. Say that you’re doing most of your messaging on WhatsApp right now because of end-to-end encryption, as well as the fact that, for the time being, there are no ads in it. Once the unified chat system launches, you’ll be able to message anyone on Facebook and Instagram without needing accounts on those social networks.
In other words, if the only reason that prevented you from leaving Facebook at any point since last year’s Cambridge Analytica scandal, was Messenger, then you’ll finally be able to ditch the social network without worrying about not being able to get in touch with specific contacts with whom you only chat via Messenger.
That said, the road to a unified chat experience across Facebook properties might not be a smooth ride, and there’s one reason to be worried before actually ditching Facebook. For the plan above to work, you’ll probably have to tie together your Facebook, WhatsApp, and Instagram accounts, something not all people might want to do. Facebook, however, might wish to access to such a unified identity to serve better ads and make more money. After all, we already know that Facebook is tracking users who don’t have Facebook accounts.