Recently, we reported that Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg is planning to merge its messaging platforms, including Instagram, WhatsApp and Messenger, into a single, unified system. The company’s CEO made the announcement during Facebook’s Q4 2018 earnings call. However, the merger wouldn’t happen before 2020. The move will reportedly bridge communication gaps and will broaden the availability of end-to-end encryption, which is currently on WhatsApp only.
Now, the social media giant’s lead data protection regulator in Europe has asked Facebook for an “urgent briefing” on what is being proposed. In a statement, the Irish Data Protection Commission said, “Previous proposals to share data between Facebook companies have given rise to significant data protection concerns and the Irish DPC will be seeking early assurances that all such concerns will be fully taken into account by Facebook in further developing this proposal.”
Wired.co.uk reported that Sandra Wachter, a lawyer and Research Fellow at the Oxford Internet Institute, said that Facebook’s plan to combine the three platforms is bound to trigger privacy concerns. “All the data will be now in one place basically,” she says. “Before this, you were still able to choose what service you were using now all your private communications will be collected centrally in one place.”
“That poses questions in terms of privacy – and of cybersecurity,” as that will be a single point of vulnerability for hackers to target in a bid to obtain users personal data from all the three services, the report mentioned. Furthermore, social media users, who are concerned about their data and are privacy-and-security-minded, they might decide to delete Facebook and use other social media services. To ignore any kind of issues, the social media giant might need to explain “why the merger is necessary for WhatsApp, Messenger and Instagram users to send messages to each other,” the reported stated.
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“We want to build the best messaging experiences we can; and people want messaging to be fast, simple, reliable and private,” a Facebook spokesperson recently said. He further stated that “We’re working on making more of our messaging products end-to-end encrypted and considering ways to make it easier to reach friends and family across networks.” “As you would expect, 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,” the spokesperson said.