Facebook plans to integrate WhatsApp, Instagram and Messenger, the technology giant has announced.
The merger is intended to create “the best messaging experiences” for the billions of users around the world who use the Facebook-owned apps.
Each app will remain distinct from each other, though the underlying messaging infrastucture will be unified, according to people familiar with the matter.
A spokesperson for Facebook said the merger would deliver a messaging platform that is “fast, simple, reliable and private”, though data experts have warned it could have an impact on people’s privacy.
The Facebook spokesperson added: “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.”
No official details have been released but the merger is expected to take place by early next year, The New York Times reported, who cited people familiar with the matter.
The messaging merger is a backtrack on Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg’s original stance that both Instagram and WhatsApp would operate autonomously from the social network.
Facebook acquired photo-sharing platform Instagram for approximately $1 billion (£761 million) in 2012, before taking over the messaging app WhatsApp in 2014 for an estimated $19.3 billion (£14.7bn).
Both apps have since experienced rapid growth – Instagram has around 1 billion monthly active users and WhatsApp has 1.5 billion users – though all original founders of the apps have since left Facebook.