Facebook is set to assert its authority by rebranding WhatsApp and Instagram to 'WhatsApp from Facebook' and 'Instagram from Facebook', respectively. While the new names don't exactly roll off the tongue, they do cement a connection that had previously been a little ambiguous – and make it clear who's boss when it comes to social media.
Facebook bought photo app (opens in new tab) Instagram in 2012 and popular messaging platform WhatsApp in 2014, but the brands had traditionally been allowed to operate independently. It looks like the move is part of a wider effort to closer integrate its sister apps into the 'Facebook family' – the co-founders of both WhatsApp and Instagram left Facebook abruptly last year, to be replaced by veteran Facebook executives. The news also comes as Facebook’s acquisitions of both apps come under scrutiny by antitrust regulators.
We suspect the new names aren't going to filter down into everyday speech ("Just WhatsApp-by-Facebook me the address, yeah?"), but are interested to see how they are incorporated into each brand's logo design. The 'by Facebook' tag does appear on other sister apps – including enterprise chat tool Workplace (opens in new tab).
A Facebook spokeswoman confirmed the change in a statement to The Information (opens in new tab): "We want to be clearer about the products and services that are part of Facebook." Their concerns aren't unfounded, either: a 2018 survey (opens in new tab) found that 57% of Americans weren't aware that Facebook owns Instagram, and another survey (opens in new tab) reported that over 50 per cent of WhatsApp users didn't know that app was owned by Facebook.
So is it a good idea? On the one hand, the autonomy of the sister apps has protected them through various privacy scandals Facebook has been hit by in recent years. On the other, it makes sense that Facebook might want a little more recognition for the part it has had in growing both apps to the social media monsters they are today.