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Mark Zuckerberg. Photo: Drew Angerer/Getty Images

Facebook is starting to merge the messaging infrastructure of its apps WhatsApp, Facebook Messenger and Instagram, the Verge reports.

Why it matters: This is the latest move in Facebook's broader initiative to fuse individual apps and products, paving the way for users to be able to communicate cross-platform.

  • The integration comes as Facebook grapples with growing antitrust investigations in Congress and ongoing scandals.

Details: The shift comes with an update of Facebook's apps on Apple and Android devices, per the Verge, citing user reports.

  • Once updated, Instagram embeds Facebook Messenger functionality, and adds features including swipe-to-reply and the ability to “chat with friends who use Facebook."
  • CEO Mark Zuckerberg has previously indicated that he wants the system to be end-to-end encrypted.

Between the lines: Facebook acquired Instagram and WhatsApp in 2012 and 2014 respectively, but originally vowed to leave the platforms relatively untouched.

  • Both Instagram and WhatsApp's founders left Facebook's umbrella due to increased overreach by Zuckerberg.

The bottom line: By integrating these apps, Facebook may compete more directly with Apple’s iMessage, the Verge writes.

Go deeper

Nov 19, 2020 - Technology

Facebook says very few people actually see hate speech on its platform

Photo: Jaap Arriens/NurPhoto via Getty Images

Facebook said it took action on 22.1 million pieces of hate speech content to its platform globally last quarter and about 6.5 million pieces of hate speech content on Instagram. On both platforms, it says about 95% of that hate speech was proactively identified and stopped by artificial intelligence.

Details: In total, the company says that there are 10–11 views of hate speech for every 10,000 views of content uploaded to the site globally — or .1%. It calls this metric — how much problematic content it doesn't catch compared to how much is reported and removed — "prevalence."

John Hinckley, who shot Reagan, wins unconditional release

John Hinckley Jr. sitting on the back seat of a car in 1981. Photo: Bettmann / Getty Images

A federal judge on Monday approved the unconditional release of John Hinckley Jr., who tried to assassinate former President Reagan in 1981.

State of play: U.S. District Court Judge Paul L. Friedman in Washington ruled that Hinckley can be freed from all court supervision in 2022 if he remains mentally stable and continues to follow rules that were imposed on him after he was released from a Washington mental health facility in 2016 to live in Virginia, AP reports.

Rep. Karen Bass launches run for Los Angeles mayor

Photo: Tom Williams/CQ-Roll Call, Inc via Getty Images

Rep. Karen Bass (D-Calif.) on Monday launched her bid for mayor of Los Angeles.

Why it matters: Bass is a high-profile member of Congress. The former chair of the Congressional Black Caucus, she was considered as a potential running mate to President Joe Biden and was a lead negotiator in the recently-ended talks on police reform. Should Bass win the mayoral election, she would become the first female mayor in L.A. history.