Whatsapp, Instagram and Facebook to merge

Facebook boss Mark Zuckerberg has confirmed plans to merge the Whatsapp, Instagram and Facebook Messenger chat services by 2020. This will mean that messages can be exchanged between the different services. A step that is likely to be greeted by many users raises the ire of commentators.

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Süddeutsche Zeitung (DE) /

A dangerous monopoly

The planned fusion of the messaging services makes a debate about breaking up the company more urgent than ever, the Süddeutsche Zeitung warns:

“There's no denying it any longer: this is the creation of a monopolist. It is building up an ecosystem of communication in which the price of not joining in is getting ever higher. Dropouts now face the loss of their social network across three apps. ... Data protection authorities, competition watchdogs and civil society must observe this process closely. This will be the test of whether the EU's new data protection directive can rein in a global company. The threat of decartelisation must be an option - in other words disconnecting at least one app from Facebook. The negligence that allowed the conglomerate of the three apps to form in the first place must not be repeated.”

Neue Zürcher Zeitung (CH) /

Like a petulant teenager

Facebook isn't ready to shoulder responsibility for its scandals, Silicon Valley correspondent Marie-Astrid Langer writes in the Neue Zürcher Zeitung:

“Notwithstanding all its successes, Facebook is acting like a petulant teenager who can't understand why his parents find fault with him. The scandals of recent months - data abuse by Cambridge Analytica, Russian meddling in the US presidential elections, hate tirades against minorities all over the world - have made it clear that Zuckerberg has lost control over his network. But instead of shouldering responsibility Facebook is outsourcing it: external journalists have been hired as fact checkers to flag fake news. A new supervisory board is to decide in future which commentaries are to be deleted and which fall under free speech.”

Le Temps (CH) /

Fear of competition watchdogs

Writing in Le Temps, blogger Emily Turrettini finds the merger questionable for two reasons:

“With regard to the private sphere, legislators worry about the cross-referenced access to the data of 2.6 billion people. But this novelty raises another question: Is Zuckerberg not seeking above all to protect himself? When the three apps are merged it will be more difficult to break them up. Dark clouds hang over the Gafa companies [Google, Apple, Facebook and Amazon], for investigations into abuse of a dominant market position are already underway in the US, France and Germany.”