Date
20 May 2019
Facebook plans to link Messenger, WhatsApp and Instagram to allow users to message each other across the three platforms. Photo: Bloomberg
Facebook plans to link Messenger, WhatsApp and Instagram to allow users to message each other across the three platforms. Photo: Bloomberg

Facebook move to integrate platforms raises privacy concerns

It seems that it will be more convenient for users to reach their friends across the three different messaging platforms owned by Facebook after its plan to integrate Facebook, Instagram and Whatsapp is realized, but some are beginning to raise the privacy issue.

Facebook announced several new moves last week. Instagram will test hiding like counts from photos, as well as view counts from videos. Facebook also plans to link Messenger, WhatsApp and Instagram to allow users to message each other across the three platforms.

Following the integration, not just your friends but others on your Facebook and Instagram contact lists may call you directly since your WhatsApp account is linked to your mobile number.

WhatsApp users currently do not need to share much personal information with Facebook. The change means you hand over your mobile number to Facebook. It could be a disaster if there was another large-scale data leak, particularly for those opening up other personal data to Facebook.

Currently, there are no ads on WhatsApp and Instagram messaging platforms. But Facebook Messenger already plugs ads in users’ conversations. Does that mean ads will also pop up in WhatsApp and Instagram conversations after the integration?

WhatsApp co-founder and CEO Jan Koum has left the company amid arguments with Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg over data privacy and encryption.

Koum even called on users to delete their Facebook accounts.

Nevertheless, I hope Facebook will allow users to choose how they want to control their personal data and with whom they want to share such information after the three platforms are connected.

Hopefully, Facebook has learned a bitter lesson from the various data leak scandals involving the social networking giant and will do better in protecting user privacy.

This article appeared in the Hong Kong Economic Journal on May 6

Translation by Julie Zhu with additional reporting

[Chinese version 中文版]

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RT/CG

Hong Kong Information Technology Federation honorary chairman

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