Mark Zuckerberg is ordering Facebook employees to make big changes to the way the company's most popular apps work, connecting WhatsApp, Instagram, and Messenger

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Mark Zuckerberg is ordering Facebook employees to make big changes to the way the company's most popular apps work, connecting WhatsApp, Instagram, and Messenger

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  • Mark Zuckerberg has tasked Facebook employees to reconfigure its messaging services WhatsApp, Messenger, and Instagram so users can communicate across the platforms, The New York Times reports.
  • The apps will continue to operate as three standalone platforms, but would be unified by an "underlying messaging infrastructure" that includes end-to-end encryption for the entire "family" of Facebook-owned apps, according to the Times.
  • These proposed changes have reportedly caused unrest within the company, and are said to have attributed to the departures of WhatsApp's and Instagram's founders from Facebook.
  • The proposed restructuring of Facebook's messaging platforms is reportedly designed help boost audience engagement and further lead to new advertising and business opportunities.

Under new marching orders from Mark Zuckerberg, Facebook plans to integrate the messaging services of its three most popular apps, a move that would allow for cross-communication among users on WhatsApp, Instagram, and Facebook Messenger, according to The New York Times' Mike Isaac.

The proposed restructuring of the apps will allow a user on one of Facebook's platforms to message with someone who may only have an account on a different Facebook-owned app, like WhatsApp.

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The unified "underlying messaging infrastructure" is planned to be finished by late 2019 or early 2020, the Times reports. However, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg has reportedly held several meetings with employees where he has faced questions about his reasoning for the integration, including one where he emphasized the project would be a "priority" this year.

As part of the integration, all three apps would incorporate end-to-end encryption into their messaging platforms, the NYT says. Encryption helps to protect messages from being visible to outside parties, and it sounds like the idea is to create a way for Facebook's family of messaging apps to securely communicate with each other while opening up new revenue opportunities that utilize the integrated platforms.

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Facebook did not respond to Business Insider's request for comment. In a statement to the NYT, Facebook said it was working to provide users with "messaging experiences" that were "fast, simple, reliable and private."

Tying together the app's different technological infrastructures is not an easy task. More than 2.5 billion people use at least one of Facebook's platforms. The three popular social apps altogether had more than 2 billion downloads worldwide in 2018, according to data provided by Sensor Tower.

Read more: The cofounder of Instagram on why he left Facebook: 'No one ever leaves a job because everything's awesome'

Sources told NYT that Facebook, led by Zuckerberg, is aiming to increase user engagement with the proposed integration. Cross-messaging between apps may leave room for the company to secure more advertising opportunities and implement add-on services.

But the new plans for Facebook's apps haven't been welcomed by everyone at the company, according to the Times. The planned integration was reportedly a major impetus for top Facebook executives to leave the company: WhatsApp's founders, Jan Koum and Brian Acton, in May 2018; and Instagram's founders, Kevin Systrom and Mike Krieger, in September.

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Multiple news reports have shed some light on various disagreements between Zuckerberg and the cofounders over "the direction" the platforms would take as Facebook-owned services. Employees at WhatsApp and Instagram balked as their apps lost their once-promised autonomy under their parent company. When WhatsApp's Koum left Facebook, he hinted at clashes with executives over user security and privacy. Instagram cofounder Kevin Systrom admitted in an interview that "no one ever leaves a job because everything is awesome."

The integration of platforms also raises questions over data privacy, an issue with which Facebook has long grappled. For example, some WhatsApp users have deliberately avoided other Facebook apps or creating a Facebook account, and Facebook says it's still hammering out how exactly the overall integration will work.

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