WhatsApp is taking the first step towards unifying with Facebook, Instagram
Facebook shared its vision of unifying the three apps under its umbrella – Facebook’s marquee app, Instagram, and WhatsApp – sometime back. One of the facets of this vision included an option to seamlessly share content between the three apps, giving users an idea of wholeness. Now, WhatsApp is making the first effort to bring about some changes on the lines of Facebook’s vision. It has begun rolling out the sharing button for WhatsApp Status to beta users, The Verge reports.
According to the folks at The Verge, the latest beta version (though unclear) brings the ability to share Status on other apps, including Instagram, Facebook, and even Gmail and Google Photos. The exchange is carried out using data-sharing APIs on Android and iOS, which means there is no account linking taking place under the hood. Beta users can choose to cross-post Status as Facebook Story or Instagram Story via a button available below the Status.
The question of whether the WhatsApp data will be leveraged by Facebook when a Story is shared is looming over the company’s reputation that has been marred by several privacy fiascos. This is also why WhatsApp told The Verge that the content will be shared locally and that the accounts will not be linked when sharing a WhatsApp Status on Facebook. Similarly, sharing a WhatsApp Status on Instagram will not link the accounts and the two posts will be considered as “separate events”. Also, WhatsApp is limiting the sharing feature to only be done manually as it needs to be “an active decision” on the user’s part.
For now, it is not clear whether the posts on Facebook or Instagram will disappear in accordance with the original WhatsApp Status or if they will follow the rules of ephemeral posting of the individual platforms. Also, WhatsApp has not detailed whether there will be a link to reach the person on WhatsApp if the contacts on Facebook or Instagram see the Story. We could not independently verify the sharing feature as it seems to be gradually rolling out to select users, starting with the US.
Facebook’s bad history of mishandling users’ data could fail to allow the company to make an appeal to users to use the feature regularly. Contrary to what was conceived at the time of acquisition of WhatsApp by Facebook, the 2016 announcement, that outlined data sharing with the parent company, raised concerns on the chat app’s end-to-end encryption policy for its users. Furthermore, Facebook is set to open WhatsApp as a platform for advertisers in 2020 to monetise its base of 500 million daily active users.