David Parkinson is owner and managing director of brand consultancy Brave & Heart. Prior to launching his own business he developed his career through IT, project and programme management and spent four years as Nissan Head of Social in Europe, building a pan European social function.
David Parkinson: Facebook, Instagram & WhatsApp to integrate at what cost?
Jerry Daykin, all round top chap and founder member of the London digerati tweeted to highlight the impending integration of Facebook Messenger, Instagram and Whatsapp:
Have to say I’d be happy to have a combined mail box... “Facebook to integrate WhatsApp, Instagram and Messenger - BBC News” https://t.co/JhhNiZohez
— Jerry Daykin (@jdaykin) January 26, 2019
My immediate response?
“To what cost?”.
To be clear – they are not advocating a single mailbox, but there is talk of cross messaging and linking of all your “Blue” accounts. For now, they are just going to have a single messaging back end – fully integrated architecture.
Make no bones about it, this move is 100% for Facebook and has very little to do with making things better for you.
Let’s look at the evidence. First up we have the famous Microsoft Anti-Trust trials. With famous commentators such as Scott Galloway consistently calling for the break up of Facebook back to its composite parts as well as to be less evil generally, they are worried about being forced by regulators to de-couple.
James Whatley wrote in his recent FTOF Newsletter that they are well aware “the politicians are coming”. And come they will, once someone can navigate the 12 million plus of lobbying money they pour into Washington to hold back the flood of negativity.
Microsoft lost because its argument that IE was integrated to the Windows architecture was flawed and plain silly. Facebook won’t make the same mistake.
“Yes senator, [checks notes, straightens tie, sips water] our full back end is integrated and there is no possible way we can separate out the three services.”
We then have the timing. No-one releases news they are proud of and want to headline on a Friday. Friday afternoons are legendary in their ability to bury bad news by making it “weekend reading”. Investors have known this trick for quite some time, as will their newly refreshed PR team (I agree with Nick).
Intrinsically linked is the exodus of all the founders of these apps. They will have known this was coming, the writing was on the wall and they wanted no part in it – so Koum left in April 2018 and Acton six-months prior to that. When a founder stays, despite the cash in the bank, it is for love. When do they leave? It’s not rocket science.
Finally, let’s look at the actual benefit for us. Zero. By integrating they save money long term with one architecture, they create full and intrinsic links between accounts, able to counter anti-trust and gain a further arrow in their quiver of ads to sell to companies.
Do we get? An integrated mailbox one day with the ability to send messages cross-platform with end-to-end encryption now by default and not in a silly secret message process. Maybe.
I could go on evidence wise – the data scandals that continue weekly, the EC commission lies, the Russian “bad actors”, the election rigging and Indian deaths and beatings.
Lord give me strength. A fish rots from the head down and this fish stinks - when will we wake up?
One day I sincerely hope that Facebook creates something that is purely and truly for the user and not to hack attention, sells ads or to create further addiction.
This is not that day.
David Parkinson is the co-founder of Brave & Heart
Have your say
Do you have a strong opinion on a topical industry issue? To submit a comment piece, please send a short summary of your idea to email@example.com. Views of writers are not necessarily those of The Drum.