Facebook plans to unify the underlying messaging infrastructure behind Instagram, WhatsApp and Messenger, although all three will continue to run as standalone apps, The New York Times (NYT) reported.

Sources told the publication the plans will come to fruition at the end of 2019 or early 2020 and the move, which will require a reconfiguration of how the apps work at their most basic level, will also see Instagram and Messenger be encrypted end-to-end, a feature already available on WhatsApp.

Facebook will also allow users to send cross-platform messages and could lead to new forms of advertising, enabling it to profit from the move. While mobile advertising on its core platform is a huge source of revenue for the company, it is still working on how to make money from Instagram and WhatsApp.

Chief steps up
NYT said this is part of CEO Mark Zuckerberg’s (pictured) goal to “assert his control over the company’s sprawling divisions at a time when its business has been battered by scandals” adding he also wants to “increase the utility of the social network, keeping its billions of users highly engaged inside its ecosystem” and shun “rival messaging services, such as those from Apple and Google”, particularly in the US.

The scandal being referred to is around misusing personal data without user consent.

NYT also quoted a Facebook statement explaining it wants to “build the best messaging experiences we can…We’re working on making more of our messaging products end-to-end encrypted”.

“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”.

This appears to be an about-turn from Facebook’s previous policy, which was to let Instagram and WhatsApp operate independently.

It is likely Zuckerberg’s plans did not go down well with the founders of the platforms, all of whom left Facebook in 2018.