By Teri Sequeira:
Now here’s an interesting development in 2019. Did you know that Facebook (FB) announced plans to merge FB Messenger, WhatsApp and Instagram?
In fact – did you even know that FB owns WhatsApp and Instagram – having paid billions of dollars for their acquisition in the last few years. Let us look at worldwide usage.
FB has over 2.2 billion active users – of which over 1.5 billion log in daily. WhatsApp has around 1.5 billion active users. And Instagram has over 1 billion active users.
Now – let us not forget these numbers are growing daily, if not hourly – usually fed by the exponential increase in mobile usage every day. Amazing numbers really, aren’t they?
So, the plan FB has is that you can use any of these platforms to communicate with users from any of the other platforms. Imagine getting all your messages from say, WhatsApp whilst you are logged into Instagram for example.
How it will work, exactly, remains to be seen. FB says that the merger would deliver a messaging platform that is fast,
simple, reliable and private, and enable users to access friends and family on different networks more easily.
But, look a bit deeper – FB is not doing this only to make life easier for users. This plan benefits businesses immensely. Businesses would be able to message their customers regardless of what messaging platform they are using.
This could replace email marketing – with an added benefit that spam would be drastically limited, as FB requires users to agree in advance to receiving target marketed communication from businesses.
More businesses can start rolling out services on a united platform. And of course, this would be a very lucrative business model for FB. So, all in all – will this be a good thing? One concern is that the founders of Instagram resigned from face book after this announcement was made.
They were soon followed by the founders for WhatsApp. This is worrying – and what were their reasons? It is believed that they were unhappy with the broken promises from Mark Zuckerberg that these apps would be allowed to run independently of each other and Facebook.
The other concerns revolve around security. Whilst FB is promising to offer end to end encryption – which is one of the biggest attractions for WhatsApp users – this is not yet available in either FB Messenger or Instagram. In addition, FB will require all users to follow their “real name policy”.
This is something that WhatsApp currently avoids – with new users able to access to the service simply with a phone number. I would suspect as well, that people are unhappy with the fact that FB can now start datamining in earnest on all users on all these platforms.
Remember too – many WhatsApp and Instagram users do not like to use FB – many younger users say that FB is for “older people” and Instagram is their communication mode of choice.
And of course, let us not forget that Facebook’s reputation as a responsible and secure social network platform has never been more suspect.
The investigation in the US of Russian interference in the US Presidential elections is still ongoing, and data accessed (illegally, many people say – and involving data from 87 million users) from FB and used to allegedly manipulate voters’ opinions is a major part of this investigation.
Allegations are also being made about the similar abuse of data to manipulate the results of the Brexit referendum. Over the last 10 years FB has had a history of data privacy scandals.
Last year, it was discovered that FB had data sharing agreements with many device producers including Apple, Amazon, BlackBerry, Microsoft, and Samsung. This, in real terms, means that any of these manufacturers could share your personal data with FB as soon as you purchased and registered a new device.
So, I leave it to you to decide. In the last few weeks, I have focussed on concerns about social media, digital implants and fake news. You – the user – will decide on how exposed to such things you want to be in 2019.
Teri Sequeira is Managing Director of SyncIT Solutions Ltd. He can be reached on teris@SyncITAfrica.com or email@example.com
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