Mark Zuckerberg Plans to Make Facebook Messenger, Instagram Messaging, and WhatsApp Interoperable

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg is planning to integrate three disparate messaging services -- Facebook Messenger, Instagram messaging, and WhatsApp -- into one "underlying messaging infrastructure" (via The New York Times).

Facebook Messenger

These services will continue to operate as their own standalone apps, but the company's work will make them interoperable with one another. This means that a Facebook user could send an encrypted message to someone who only has a WhatsApp account, and vice versa. The company is still in the early stages of the unification, with plans to be finished by the end of 2019 or early 2020.

According to sources familiar with the plans, Zuckerberg's idea is the newest effort to keep people within the Facebook ecosystem, and off of rival texting apps like iMessage.
Mr. Zuckerberg has also ordered all of the apps to incorporate end-to-end encryption, the people said, a significant step that protects messages from being viewed by anyone except the participants in the conversation.

By stitching the apps’ infrastructure together, Mr. Zuckerberg wants to increase the utility of the social network, keeping its billions of users highly engaged inside its ecosystem. If people turn more regularly to Facebook-owned properties for texting, they may forgo rival messaging services, such as those from Apple and Google, said the people, who declined to be identified because the moves are confidential.
In an official statement, Facebook said it's "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," alluding to the upcoming change. As of now, WhatsApp is the only one of the three main Facebook messaging apps to support secure end-to-end encrypted text messages, which ensures that texts are only read by you and the person you send them to.

This also raises privacy concerns for Zuckerberg's plans, since it's unclear how an end-to-end encrypted app would integrate with apps like Facebook Messenger. To sign up for WhatsApp, only a phone number is needed, but in contrast personal identities are the central part of apps like Facebook and Instagram, including their messaging services.
Today, WhatsApp requires people to register only a phone number to sign up for the service. By contrast, Facebook and Facebook Messenger ask users to provide their real identities. Matching Facebook and Instagram users to their WhatsApp handles could give pause to those who prefer keeping their use of each app compartmentalized.
In the wake of last year's Cambridge Analytica scandal, internal sources state that Zuckerberg has renewed his focus on WhatsApp and Instagram as the main Facebook brand was hit hard with negativity. In September, Bloomberg reported that Instagram was expected to soon become "more tightly integrated" with Facebook, in the wake of Instagram co-founders Kevin Systrom and Mike Krieger leaving Facebook.

WhatsApp founders Jan Koum and Brian Acton have also left Facebook for similar reasons. According to today's reports, employees are still clashing with Zuckerberg over the new shift in focus to WhatsApp and Instagram, with dozens of WhatsApp employees arguing with Zuckerberg over the upcoming messaging integration plan on internal message boards, as well as during a "contentious" staff meeting last month.

During this meeting, WhatsApp employees reportedly asked Zuckerberg why he was so focused on making the messaging services integration a priority for 2019. According to sources, his responses were "vague" and "meandering," and as a result several WhatsApp employees have left and more are planning to leave because of the plan.


This article, "Mark Zuckerberg Plans to Make Facebook Messenger, Instagram Messaging, and WhatsApp Interoperable" first appeared on MacRumors.com

Discuss this article in our forums

Facebook Rolling Out Redesigned Messenger App With Simplified Interface and Customizable Chat Bubbles

Facebook today announced that it's rolling out a redesigned, simplified version of the Messenger app on a global basis starting today.

Messenger 4, as Facebook is calling it, will refocus on conversations, making it easier to navigate through the app. Instead of nine separate tabs, there will be three tabs, with conversations quickly accessible through the "Chats" tab. Quick access to the camera for sharing photos and for video chats is also included in the Chats tab.


In the new "People" tab, Messenger users will be able to find friends, see who is active, and watch people's Stories, while the new "Discover" tab will let users find businesses to get deals, play games, follow news stories, and more.

Conversations with people can be customized using color gradients. With color gradients, multiple colors can be used for chat bubbles, and the colors will change as you scroll up and down a conversation.

According to Facebook, the new Messenger app will roll out to customers "over the coming weeks" so not everyone will have access to the refreshed design right away.

In the near future, Facebook also plans to roll out a Dark Mode that will cut down on glare from the phone at night.


Discuss this article in our forums

Facebook Fights US Government Demand to Break Messenger Encryption in Criminal Case

Facebook is contesting a demand from the U.S. government that it break the encryption of its popular Messenger app so that law enforcement can listen in to a suspect's conversations as part of an ongoing investigation into the MS-13 gang.

The U.S. Department of Justice's demand is in relation to a case proceeding in a federal court in California that is currently under seal, so public files are unavailable. However, Reuters' sources said the judge in the case heard arguments on Tuesday on a government motion to hold Facebook in contempt of court for refusing to carry out the surveillance request.

Facebook says it can only comply with the government's request if it rewrites the code relied upon by all its users to remove encryption or else hacks the government's current target, according to Reuters.

Legal experts differed over whether the government would likely be able to force Facebook to comply. However, if the government gets its way in the case, experts say the precedent could allow it to make similar arguments to force other tech companies to compromise their encrypted communications services.

Messaging platforms like Signal, Telegram, Facebook's WhatsApp and Apple's iMessage all use end-to-end encryption that prevents communications between sender and recipient from being accessed by anyone else, including the service providers.

Tech companies have pushed back against previous attempts by authorities to break encryption methods, such as the FBI's request that Apple help it hack into the iPhone owned by Syed Farook, one of the shooters in the December 2015 attacks in San Bernardino.

In February 2016, a U.S. federal judge ordered Apple to help the FBI, but Apple opposed the order in an open letter penned by Tim Cook, who said the FBI's request would set a "dangerous precedent" with serious implications for the future of smartphone encryption.

Apple's dispute with the FBI ended on March 28, 2016 after the government found an alternate way to access the data on the iPhone with the help of a private contractor and withdrew the lawsuit.

Note: Due to the political nature of the discussion regarding this topic, the discussion thread is located in our Politics, Religion, Social Issues forum. All forum members and site visitors are welcome to read and follow the thread, but posting is limited to forum members with at least 100 posts.


Discuss this article in our forums

Facebook Messenger Expanding Chat Translation to All Users in United States and Mexico

Facebook today announced it is expanding chat translation within Messenger to all users in the United States and Mexico.


When you receive a message in a language that is different from your default language in Messenger, Facebook's artificial intelligence assistant M will automatically offer a suggestion to translate the message. When you tap on the suggestion, you will be asked to enable auto-translation. Upon doing so, all future messages received that are not in your default language will be automatically translated.

"This is a meaningful milestone for M Suggestions and will enable people to connect with people they would not be able to communicate with otherwise in a way that is seamless and natural," a Messenger spokesperson said.

Auto-translation is enabled on a per-conversation basis, and all messages are shown in both the original language and translated version. You can opt-out of the feature at any time via the M Settings menu in Messenger, accessible by tapping your profile picture in the top-left corner of the app.

At launch, M can translate from English to Spanish, and vice versa. Facebook plans to add other languages and countries in the future.

Facebook first launched chat translation via M for users of its Marketplace service in the United States in early May. M Suggestions as a whole launched in April 2017, and are now available in 11 countries and five languages.


At its F8 developer conference last month, Facebook previewed an upcoming redesign of Messenger, including a simplified user interface, a dark mode, and customizable chat bubbles. At the time, the company said the facelift will be available "very, very soon," but as of now, the update has yet to be rolled out.

Apple is known to have looked at a similar implementation of Siri in iMessage as M in Messenger. A patent published in 2016 for a "virtual assistant in a communication session" depicts a scenario in which users can invoke Siri from within chat threads to get answers to relevant queries, complete scheduling tasks, and more.


Apple hasn't moved forward with the idea, but it did introduce Siri Shortcuts in iOS 12, enabling users to connect certain third-party apps to Siri to greatly streamline voice controls with app-specific actions.


Discuss this article in our forums

Facebook Messenger Update Shown Off in Images: Dark Mode, Simplified UI, and Custom Chat Bubbles

Yesterday during its F8 conference, Facebook announced that an update coming to Messenger would simplify the chat app and reduce the amount of visual clutter that had been added into the user interface over the last few years. The Next Web has shared images of this new update, showing off the cleaned up interface, a dark mode, and more.

Images via The Next Web

The updated Facebook Messenger greatly reduces the number of buttons on the bottom of the screen to just three, and moves the camera and call buttons to the top right of the UI. In the current app, the bottom row has five buttons for Home, People, Camera, Games, and Discover. As The Next Web pointed out, Facebook doesn't appear to be removing any features from Messenger, so anything that appears missing is believed to be combined into another button.


Messenger will still open on a recent chat list, with circles of friends aligning the top of the screen that includes a + button to add to your Messenger Day story, the app's Snapchat clone feature. When you click on a chat, the bottom-screen UI buttons shift to include options for chat bots, the camera, and emoji. In this screen, you'll also be able to customize your chat with various color options and set what appears to be a shortcut to your favorite emoji.


During the keynote on the update, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg said that the company knows its users want a "simple and fast experience" in a chat app, so it would be "taking this moment to completely redesign Messenger to focus on these ideas." Facebook introduced a pared-down version called Messenger Lite in 2016, but it was only made available for Android devices and has yet to launch on iOS.

For the new update to the iOS Messenger app, Facebook said it's coming "very, very soon." Yesterday, the company also unveiled a "clear history" tool for ads and analytics, showed off a dating feature to rival Tinder, and launched a standalone VR headset "Oculus Go."


Discuss this article in our forums

Facebook Messenger Adds New Admin Privileges Amid Backlash Over Company’s Mishandling of User Data

Facebook today announced the rollout of a new feature in Messenger called "Admin Privileges." With this toggled on, the company said that it will give specific users in a group chat "more control" over who partakes in the chat, and should help boost the app's privacy.

If you have admin privileges you'll be able to approve or decline new members before they join the chat, remove members already in a chat, and promote or demote any other person as an admin. The company said that the feature should help large groups who need to get in touch but may not be connected to on Facebook, like for a friend's surprise party.


There are also new joinable links that any member can create and send out to potential new members, which an admin will then be able to approve. These admin privileges will be turned off by default:
The great thing about admin privileges in Messenger is they work in the background; if your group chat doesn’t need that level of control, it won’t get in the way of your group messaging. You’ll have the option to decide if you’d like admin approval for approving new members, but this preference is off by default in your group chat settings.
Today's Facebook Messenger update launches at the same time that Facebook is facing immense scrutiny for its involvement with consulting firm Cambridge Analytica, which itself has been tied to President Trump's 2016 election campaign. According to recent reports, the firm improperly amassed information from 50 million Facebook users without their consent and used that data to "target messages to voters."

In the wake of these reports, investigations have been opened into Facebook's actions and several politicians have asked Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg to testify about the events. A new "#DeleteFacebook" campaign has now launched on Twitter, which WhatsApp co-founder Brian Acton took part in. Facebook owns WhatsApp, but Acton left the company earlier in 2018 to start his own non-profit organization.

A Facebook spokesperson mentioned that the company was "deceived" by Cambridge Analytica and didn't know about its actions. One Facebook shareholder, Fan Yuan, has filed a lawsuit against the company alleging it had some knowledge of Cambridge Analytica's data siphoning and made "materially false and/or misleading" claims regarding the company's handling of user data.
“The entire company is outraged we were deceived,” the statement continued. “We are committed to vigorously enforcing our policies to protect people’s information and will take whatever steps are required to see that this happens.”
As the scandal continues to grow, the Federal Trade Commission has also begun looking into whether Facebook potentially "violated an agreement with the agency." Zuckerberg has yet to comment on the issue.

Back in January, Facebook announced a series of privacy-focused updates, which were planned for a rollout ahead of a May 25 deadline for compliance with the General Data Protection Regulation in the EU. At the time, Facebook also revealed a new overhaul for the news feed that would favor friends and family posts over publishers. Zuckerberg said that this update would lessen the time its users spend on Facebook, but cause the time to "be more valuable."

Note: Due to the political nature of the discussion regarding this topic, the discussion thread is located in our Politics, Religion, Social Issues forum. All forum members and site visitors are welcome to read and follow the thread, but posting is limited to forum members with at least 100 posts.


Discuss this article in our forums

Facebook Messenger Streamlines Controls for Creating Group Video and Audio Chats

In December 2016, Facebook Messenger rolled out the ability for users to create group video chats with up to six members participating, and today the company has further streamlined the feature. Before today's update, if users were already in a one-on-one video or audio call they had to hang up, start a new conversation, and choose every member to invite to the new group chat.


Now, while in a video chat or voice call, there will be a new "add person" icon so that users can simply scrub through a list of their Facebook Messenger friends, tap who to invite, and wait for them to join -- all without leaving the original call.
With the ability to add more people seamlessly to your calls, you can continue your conversation in the moment, just like if you were together in real life. Never again worry about skipping a beat when sharing your BFF’s spontaneous karaoke performance on Messenger. Sharing moments like these is now a few quick taps away.
Otherwise, the feature remains the same with six total users able to video chat at once and various filters and effects still supported. After the call ends, Facebook Messenger also creates a group chat automatically in each user's inbox, so that members can keep texting one another.


Facebook's refinement to group video chats in Messenger comes as a similar feature has yet to debut in Apple's FaceTime app. The long-requested, multi-person FaceTime call update is now being rumored for a potential launch within iOS 12 later this year, but Bloomberg has stated that it may not be ready for a debut in 2018.

If group video calls don't make it into iOS 12, other improvements to FaceTime are rumored to be coming in the update this fall. Mainly, Apple is planning to integrate Animoji into FaceTime, allowing people to use the animated emoji characters when making a video call.

For Facebook, the company said that the new Messenger update will be available today on iOS and Android devices worldwide.


Discuss this article in our forums

Facebook Messenger Bug Preventing Some iPhone Users From Being Able to Type Messages

Many Facebook Messenger users have taken to social media today to point out a frustrating keyboard bug occurring within the iPhone app (via TechCrunch). According to the affected users, Messenger is "totally broken" and freezes after they type a few words in a chat window.

Users have tried force closing the app, as well as deleting and reinstalling it, but nothing has yet fixed it. Facebook confirmed that it is looking into the bug, "but for now there's no word from the company on what is causing it and how it plans to fix it."


There also appears to be no workaround, so those needing to contact someone on Facebook Messenger will need to use another device or visit the social network on the web. Complaints on Twitter about the problem show that issues began late last night and have persisted into the morning.

One user reported that the bug caused their iPhone 6s Plus to crash, and another theorized that the source of the problem might be with the app's autocorrect function.

Earlier this week, Facebook vice president of messaging products, David Marcus, admitted that Messenger's mobile app has become "too cluttered." In response to this, the company will invest in "massively simplifying and streamlining" Messenger in 2018.


Discuss this article in our forums

Facebook VP: Messenger App ‘Too Cluttered’ and Will Be ‘Massively’ Streamlined This Year

Facebook vice president of messaging products, David Marcus, posted an update on Messenger today, outlining the app's successes in 2017 and hinting at what the team has planned for 2018.

In the post, Marcus mentioned that the Messenger team knows the app has become "too cluttered." Because of this, they have planned a big update for 2018, which will introduce a simplified and streamlined experience for Facebook Messenger (via The Verge).
Over the last two years, we built a lot of capabilities to find the features that continue to set us apart. A lot of them have found their product market fit; some haven’t. While we raced to build these new features, the app became too cluttered. Expect to see us invest in massively simplifying and streamlining Messenger this year.
In 2017 alone, Facebook Messenger added its 24-hour Snapchat clone "Messenger Day," introduced location sharing, integrated AI assistant "M" into the app, added Apple Music and Spotify extensions, let users purchase products with a MasterCard chatbot, introduced PayPal P2P payments, and even announced a Messenger spin-off app for kids. The main Messenger app got a redesign in May 2017, with Facebook stating at the time that the changes helped "make Messenger simpler for you." Now it appears that the company will try again to simplify the chat app in 2018.

Marcus didn't specify which parts of Facebook Messenger might be removed in the streamlining process, but he did mention a few aspects that the company will continue to focus on in 2018. These include doubling down on "visual messaging" -- i.e. gifs, stickers, videos, and images -- and evolving customer service into a "Customer Care" experience so that users can easily contact companies to have basic troubleshooting and other questions answered.


Discuss this article in our forums

Facebook Announces Messenger App for Kids That Parents Can Remotely Monitor

Facebook today is rolling out a preview for a new standalone app aimed at kids under the age of 13, which the company says was built to make it easier for kids to "safely video chat and message with family and friends." The "Messenger Kids" preview is available only on iPhone, iPod touch, and iPad in the United States, letting young family members download the app, which can then be controlled by their parent's Facebook account.

Facebook said that it developed the app with guidance from the National PTA, as well as experts in child development and online safety. Messenger Kids does not require children to create a Facebook account, but instead asks parents to download the app, authenticate it, and then create a miniature profile of their kid that is linked to the parent's Facebook account.


Once parents set up an account, kids can have one-on-one or group video calls only with contacts approved by their parents. The home screen of the app shows these approved contacts, as well as which are online.
Whether it’s using video chat to talk to grandparents, staying in touch with cousins who live far away, or sending mom a decorated photo while she’s working late to say hi, Messenger Kids opens up a new world of online communication to families. This preview is available on the App Store for iPad, iPod touch, and iPhone.
Like other Facebook apps, there are a wide variety of masks, emojis, and sound effects to use within video chats. Kids will be able to send photos, videos, and text messages -- and edit them with GIFs, frames, stickers, and doodling tools -- to their friends also on Messenger Kids, as well as adult family members. The adult contacts will receive these messages on their normal Messenger app.


For parents, there will now be a Messenger Kids parental controls panel on their own Facebook app, where they can approve or disallow certain contacts from being able to talk with their kid. Facebook said that there are "no ads" in Messenger Kids and any of the child's information from the app "isn't used for ads."

Messenger Kids is available on the iOS App Store for free starting today [Direct Link], and Facebook confirmed that there are no in-app purchases. For more information, visit Facebook's new website for the kid-focused app.


Discuss this article in our forums