Wednesday, January 30, 2019

Send me a WhatsApp ... on IG

We love IG.  Arguably, Instagram is Jamaica’s most popular social media app.  Its got a plethora of ever-expanding features to deliver up multiple dopamine hits with every use.  In short, Instagram is addictive.

What do you do when you have a hit product everyone loves?  Well, you mess it up of course.  Remember Classic Coke?

We should have seen this coming when Facebook creator Mark Zuckerberg led the multibillion-dollar acquisitions of Instagram and WhatsApp.

In a move that Instagram users are likely going to hate, IG owners Facebook are reportedly considering merging the backend with the equally popular WhatsApp and waning in popularity Facebook making the three apps interoperable.

The result: three stand-alone platforms across which you can send messages to any user.  Users of any and all apps would be able to send a message to users on another platform, without leaving the app.  Sounds cool?  I don’t think so.

WhatsApp supports End-to-End (E2E) encryption for messages.  Currently, Facebook offers limited E2E encryption for messages, and Instagram does not offer the feature.  E2E encryption keeps messages secure from the government, law enforcement, hackers and advertisers; the last of which is key to Facebook’s business model.

“We want to build the best messaging experiences we can; and people want messaging to be fast, simple, reliable and private,” explained Facebook in a statement to the UK based Guardian.  "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. As you would expect, there is a lot of discussion and debate as we begin the long process of figuring out all the details of how this will work,” they added.

Beyond message privacy, there is user data privacy.  Facebook’s challenges with this topic are well documented.

Privacy aside, the proposed interoperability among three of the worlds most popular apps used, often daily or at least by me, by billions of people and businesses around the globe raises anti-trust questions.

Of note, the founders of both WhatsApp and Instagram have resigned from Facebook within the last year.

What can we do?  Perhaps it's time for us to redirect our digital addictions to a different platform.