The differences between Facebook, Instagram, and WhatsApp are melting away
The Hustle

The differences between Facebook, Instagram, and WhatsApp are melting away

Welcome to “interop.”


October 1, 2020

If you thought deleting your Facebook account would finally free you from your great uncle’s updates, we have terrible news: Facebook is linking DMs on its platform to DMs on Instagram.

That means someone can use a Facebook account to message you on Instagram even if you don’t have Facebook, and vice versa.

It’s part of a company effort called “interop:” Facebook wants to tie together the suite of social apps it owns — Facebook.com, WhatsApp, Messenger, and Instagram — into one big, happy family.

Meet the new Facebook mega app

On Tuesday, Facebook introduced “Accounts Center,” a dashboard that lets you jointly manage your Instagram and Facebook accounts with one universal login.

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The change might seem a little administrative, but it represents a PR shift for both companies.

Instagram and WhatsApp once prided themselves on their independence from Zuck. But last August, the apps started describing themselves as “from Facebook” for the 1st time.

The timing isn’t a coincidence

The FTC is reportedly preparing an antitrust case against Facebook. On one hand, bundling its apps protects it from regulators: Per the New York Times, “the more Facebook knits its apps together, the harder it is for a government to break it up.”

But there’s also a risk of backlash

Last year, a poll showed that only 29% of people knew that Facebook owns WhatsApp and Instagram.

That knowledge gap might have made users more sympathetic to Facebook’s side. But now there’s no question about exactly how massive Facebook is.

Combined, its apps now represent a total of ~2.5B users (or ~⅓ of the world’s population).

In the worst scenario for the company, a larger swath of the public might side against it in an antitrust argument.

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