Why it matters: Not everyone is aware that Facebook owns Instagram and WhatsApp. On the other hand, what may be more obvious to users is that the Facebook name has been tied to a number of privacy scandals in recent history. As the company is increasingly under the lens of regulators, a move to tie its somewhat tarnished name to some of its biggest and most successful acquisitions is only going to paint a clearer picture of the kind of control it has over our online lives.
When Facebook revealed its efforts to unify the underlying infrastructure of WhatsApp, Instagram and Messenger, everyone collectively sighed and accepted that at least we would get end-to-end encryption on all of them, which was long overdue positive.
Facebook is now taking the next step and stamp its name on both apps to make sure you understand that it also owns two of the biggest social media apps out there, both home to over a billion daily dwellers. The Information reports that Facebook employees recently received a memo about the changes, which highlight the way the company wants to promote its acquisitions.
The two apps will be renamed “Instagram from Facebook” and “WhatsApp from Facebook” on Google Play and the Apple’s App Store. This is similar to the company’s Workplace app and mirroring the rebranding it did with Oculus. For now though, you will be glad to know the home screen icons won’t bear the same titles.
A Facebook representative told The Information “We want to be clearer about the products and services that are part of Facebook.”
Following a wide array of breaches, data privacy scandals, CEO Mark Zuckerberg promised his company would focus on privacy across all of services. What we don’t know is how exactly he intends to keep users, especially young ones who seem to be leaving in droves.
The move also signals that the social media giant is going to further align Instagram and WhatsApp, which operated somewhat independently until now with the overall goals of their parent company. The rebranding memo reportedly took many employees by surprise and left them confused, and comes just as the FTC is preparing to dive deep into the company’s acquisition practices to see whether it systematically approached startups to ensure they’d never become a threat to Facebook’s dominant market position.
To put things in further context, the founders of WhatsApp and Instagram have left their key positions precisely because they clashed with Facebook’s values and goals, and one of them went on and created Signal, an app that focuses on encrypted messaging.