To be honest, I’m kind of impressed Facebook held out this long.
After buying WhatsApp and Instagram several years ago, Facebook has decided it’s time to let everyone know who’s in charge. A report from The Information details Facebook plans to change the names of the apps to ‘Instagram from Facebook‘ and ‘WhatsApp from Facebook.’ The social network later confirmed the report.
I’m sure people with love that.
This isn’t just something you’ll see on marketing materials, as Facebook intends to change the name you see in the Google Play and the App Store as well. Mercifully, the ‘from Facebook’ text – which appears to be rolling out slowly – so far only shows up in print within the apps themselves, and the names won’t change on your home screen. They’d be needlessly long; what’s next, ‘Boomerang from Instagram from Facebook?’
Facebook, for its part, released a simple explanation in response to the report: “We want to be clearer about the products and services that are part of Facebook.”
On one hand, its reasoning makes some sense. Facebook seems to be hit with the negative press every other week, while WhatsApp and Instagram have remained relatively clean within their mostly-autonomous operation. By adding a ‘from Facebook’ to WhatsApp and Instagram, the company to say “hey, we make less controversial apps too!”
Until recently, Facebook has mostly let the companies do their own thing, as reflected by the fact that employees were blindsided by the change in name, according to The Information. This move and others – such as plans to integrate messaging services across Facebook, WhatsApp, and Instagram – show signs Facebook is holding tighter reins over its properties. Both WhatsApp’s and Instagram’s founders have left their companies in dissatisfaction with Facebook’s new grip.
It’s also worth noting that Facebook has seen increasing pressure to break up, facing antitrust lawsuits and calls from presidential candidates to separate its businesses. By adding the ‘from Facebook’ tag, the company could be trying to build up some goodwill to defend its owning three of the biggest social media platforms in the world. It seems to be asserting its role in getting Instagram and WhatsApp where they are today.
But Instagram and WhatsApp users don’t need to be reminded these apps are owned by Facebook. That separation is part of what helps some people feel comfortable using Instagram even if they deleted their Facebook account years ago. In fact, according to a 2018 survey, 57 percent of Americans don’t even know Instagram is owned by Facebook, and another one showed 50 percent don’t know the company owns WhatsApp. Ignorance is bliss, as they say.