Combining Facebook’s Messenger, WhatsApp & Instagram will abandon Data Privacy

Combining Facebook’s Messenger, WhatsApp & Instagram will abandon Data Privacy

Combining Facebook’s Messenger, WhatsApp & Instagram will abandon Data Privacy

Facebook’s plan of integrating Messenger, Instagram, and WhatsApp may well fetch more profits for the company, making it more convenient to users as well, but tech experts fear it would make it less private for about everyone.

The merger plan was first reported by the New York Times, as would see the 3 platforms continue to operate individually, but with an integrated back-end allowing messages to be shared between consumers of various services.

Mark Zuckerberg, confirmed the merger by stating, “We're really early in thinking through this. There's a lot more we need to figure out before we finalize the plan”.

Data becomes a powerful entity when it is combined. But from a security standpoint, Facebook’s merger doesn’t makes sense: it will possibly to result in a less private environment for data communication. By merging these three application will also let Facebook to put a bigger picture of users’ personal data by combining these 3 data sets.

When Facebook acquired WhatsApp in 2014 and Instagram in 2012, officials didn’t react to anything, despite the consumer complaints filed with FTC (Federal Trade Commission) over WhatsApp’s practice of collecting user’s data after the acquisition.

Probably, FTC cleared these acquisitions centered on the conviction making online advertising, the heart of digital industry’s business model.

But, how can we not talk about Facebook’s previous attempt of merging WhatsApp to widen its business which was shot down in European Union because of concerns about data protection! In March 2018, ICO, UK information commissioner ruled it to be illegal for the tech giant to carry out the plan which was paused in 2016, about sharing personal data between two platforms with the intention of improving “targeted advertising” on the social media giant, Facebook.

If a technology giant like Facebook can acquire so ample of users’ attention by merging these tech platforms, no doubt it in actual fact dominates the market. This is where the Anti trust policy steps in.

WhatsApp co-founder Brian Acton, in an interview with Forbes, even stated that he was "coached to explain" to the European Union's antitrust regulators that it would be difficult to merge data between Facebook and WhatsApp, before the giant acquisition.

Aram Sinnreich, chair of communication studies at American University said, “There is a certain consumer’s expectation that if you sign up for Instagram and not for WhatsApp, then your data will exist only in one of those silos. Most consumers are not even aware that WhatsApp and Instagram are operated by Facebook, so they have a reasonable expectation that those will be treated separately and not be combined to create a much more thorough portrait of their lives, their personal location information, their network of contacts, etc.”

People use these three different apps for their independent reasons, as people using Instagram may not certainly use messenger and WhatsApp, or vice versa. If the applications integrate, your professional contacts with whom you communicate on WhatsApp can see your recreational pursuits and personal activities on Instagram — basically eradicating users’ facility of keeping certain facets of their life private from a certain group of people or contacts.

The thought of merging Instagram, WhatsApp, and Facebook Messenger is picturing the scrutiny of European data watchdogs. With no surprise, The Irish Data Protection Commission asked Facebook for a crucial briefing on the merger being proposed. This commission, regulating Facebook in the European Union, needs to make sure that this integration complies with the GDPR, the EU’s privacy regulation.

In 2016, Facebook made an attempt of sharing user’s personal data collected by WhatsApp with larger businesses, but the proposal got canceled after the investigation by UK’s data protection watchdogs.

“Imagine ... a world with no privacy!”

The proposed merger of Messenger, WhatsApp and Instagram is already drawing criticism from the US officials, where some even said that red flags should have been raised initially when Facebook acquired Instagram and WhatsApp. As it would have stimulated real competition promoting privacy of consumers.

Another point of concern is that out of these 3 platforms, only WhatsApp is end-to-end encrypted. And if the three are merged, it is most likely for WhatsApp to lose this key advantage, meaning users relying on security would have to compromise.

This proposal turns out to hold questions in terms of data privacy – as of cybersecurity, by all ways, it will be a single platform of vulnerability for attackers to target personal data of users from all three services. Also, social media users, who are security-minded, and concerned about their private data might even decide to delete Facebook and shift to other more secure services.


Data Privacy and Cyber Liabilities

Data Privacy and Cyber Liabilities

In this era of high rise technology do we care about privacy?

In this era of high rise technology do we care about privacy?