Facebook has plans to merge its messaging services.

At the moment, Instagram, WhatsApp and Facebook messenger are all used as stand-alone apps.  While there are no plans to change this Facebook plan to link them at a deeper level.  This would mean messages could travel across all three services.

However, Facebook has said that it was just the start of a “long process.”  But once complete it would mean that if you are just a Facebook user you could communicate directly with someone who only has at WhatsApp account. This is currently impossible as the applications have no common core.

First reported in the New York Times the plan is understood to be a personal project of Mark Zuckerberg, Facebook’s founder.

The work to merge the three elements has already begun and is expected to be completed by the end of 2019 or early next year.

 What will the plan mean for users?

WhatsApp, Instagram and Messenger are run as separate and competing products.

Integrating the messaging parts might simplify Facebook’s work. It wouldn’t need to develop competing versions of new features, such as Stories, which all three apps have added with inconsistent results.

Cross-platform messaging may also lead the way for businesses on one platform to message potential customers on another.

And it might make it easier for Facebook to share data across the three platforms, to help its targeted advertising efforts.

it would also make Facebook’s suite of apps a much tighter, interwoven collection of services. T

Facebook’s empire could become more difficult to break up and spin off if governments and regulators decide that is necessary.

Data sharing

Makena Kelly, on tech news site The Verge, suggests By effectively joining all its users into one massive group Facebook could compete more effectively with Google’s messaging services and Apple’s iMessage,

Mr. Zuckerberg is reportedly pushing the integration plan to make all three services more useful and increase the amount of time people spend on them.

“We want to build the best messaging experiences we can; and people want messaging to be fast, simple, reliable and private,” said Facebook in a statement.

“We’re working on making more of our messaging products end-to-end encrypted and considering ways to make it easier to reach friends and family across networks,” it added.

The statement said there was a lot of “discussion and debate” about how the system would eventually work.

Until now Instagram and WhatsApp have operated as largely independent companies. Mark Zuckerberg’s plan to connect the services has caused “internal Strife” according to some on the inside.  They say it was It was part of the reason that the founders of both Instagram and WhatsApp left last year.

Facebook has been facing repeated investigations and criticisms over the way it has handled and safeguarded user data.

Comprehensively linking user data at a fundamental level may prompt regulators to take another look at its data handling practices.

The UK’s Information Commissioner(ICO) has already investigated how much data is shared between WhatsApp and Facebook.