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Facebook’s Merger Is Causing Privacy Concerns Among Regulators

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Last week, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg has expressed his desire to integrate three of the company's major platforms: Messenger, WhatsApp, and Instagram.

This move means that the technical infrastructure of the apps will be merged together and eventually allow its over 2.6 billion users to send messages across different platforms. While it may sound practical, some experts and lawmakers have expressed their concerns about privacy and security implications this integration might bring in the long run.

The New York Times first reported Facebook's plan on Friday, citing four people involved in the merger.

Antitrust Issues

After being in hot water ever since last year's Facebook-Cambridge Analytica data scandal, Zuckerberg's merger plan is now also facing criticism, particularly from lawmakers and security experts.

California's Democratic Representative Ro Khanna pointed out that there should've been further scrutiny over Facebook, most especially during the time it acquired WhatsApp and Instagram.

"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," the representative said in a tweet.

"Imagine how different the world would be if Facebook had to compete with Instagram and WhatsApp. That would have encouraged real competition that would have promoted privacy and benefited consumers."

Democratic senator Ron Wyden also expressed his worry over the merger and the possible issues that may come with it. In an email to Business Insider, the senator said that Zuckerberg's plan to combine his most used platforms could affect the privacy of its users, most especially if it weakens WhatsApp's end-to-end encryption.

In the same statement, Senator Wyden also raised concerns on how companies such as Facebook handle its users' data to gain profit.

End-To-End Encryption

End-to-end encryption prevents parties that aren't involved in a conversation from accessing a certain message thread.

According to The New York Times, Facebook will still use this feature across all platforms concerned once the merger pushes through, although the company admitted that it'll take a lot of work before this is implemented. As of the moment, among the three apps, only WhatsApp has default end-to-end encryption.

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