Looking to gain more control over
the company’s communication platforms and prevent users from switching to
competitors, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg will merge WhatsApp, Instagram and
Facebook Messenger, writes
The New York Times. The integration is expected to be complete by 2020 and will
serve over 2.6 billion users.

“The services will continue to
operate as stand-alone apps, but their underlying technical infrastructure will
be unified,” the newspaper reported, citing four people involved in the effort,
whom it didn’t name.

The merger, part of the tech
company’s larger plan to increase revenue and advertising opportunities, raises
security and privacy concerns regarding user data and how the cross-platform
communication will further handle data sharing.

“This is why there should have been far more scrutiny during
Facebook’s acquisitions of Instagram and WhatsApp, which now clearly seem like
horizontal mergers that should have triggered antitrust scrutiny,” Representative
Ro Khanna, Democrat of California, said on Twitter. “Imagine how different the world would be
if Facebook had to compete with Instagram and WhatsApp.”

According to Facebook, the apps
will benefit from end-to-end encryption because they want to “build the best
messaging experiences we can; and people want messaging to be fast, simple,
reliable and private. 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.”

However, the merger and possible
lack of autonomy raise trust issues and internal conflicts, following the
departure of WhatsApp and Instagram founders. Inside sources who spoke with The
New York Times say the reconfiguration of all three services will be the work
of thousands but the company is still figuring out all the details.