Meta-owned messaging platform WhatsApp is gearing up to facilitate third-party messaging apps on its platform, anticipating the implementation of the European Union's Digital Markets Act (DMA) by March.
In an interview with Wired, Dick Brouwer, Director of Engineering at WhatsApp, stated that the company is ready to provide interoperability on its platform to its more than 2 billion users.
Privacy, security and interoperability
Brouwer highlighted the challenge of balancing providing interoperability for third parties while maintaining WhatsApp's standards of privacy, security and integrity. “I think we're pretty happy with where we've landed,” he said, expressing satisfaction with the current approach.
The EU incorporated messaging interoperability in the DMA in 2022, mandating dominant platforms such as WhatsApp and Messenger to open their services to other chat applications.
Meta is also trying to integrate support for additional chat apps into Messenger. Initially, this integration will focus on one-on-one chats, allowing users to exchange text, audio, video, images and files across apps. As WABetaInfo previously reported, the feature will be accessed through a new sub-menu labeled “Third-Party Chats.”
Brouwer, who led the implementation of end-to-end encryption for Messenger last year, emphasized that the integration was chosen to reduce spam and scams. He explained, “I can choose whether or not I want to openly participate in exchanging messages with third parties. This is important because it's a big source of spam and scams.”
Companies seeking interoperability with the Meta System must enter into agreements, the details of which are not disclosed. WhatsApp mandates end-to-end encryption to enable interoperability. However, Apple's recent revisions to the App Store suggest that the terms may not be straightforward.
Matthew Hodgson, founder of open source messaging protocol Matrix, stated during a discussion that Matrix has collaborated with WhatsApp on an “experimental” basis to perform end-to-end encryption. It is uncertain whether other operators such as Telegram, Viber and Google plan to include interoperability with WhatsApp.
Brouwer cautioned that third-party chats and WhatsApp's native chats may not achieve feature parity, as interoperability introduces new privacy and security issues.
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