Facebook feels that it doesn’t get enough “credit” for the popularity and success of Instagram and WhatsApp, a source has told WWD. Now the parent company apparently aims to correct that by putting its branding on these platforms.
The social media giant did not immediately respond to a request for comment, but it did publicly confirm its plans to update the branding on both businesses to reflect its ownership. The company acquired Instagram and WhatsApp in 2012 and 2014, respectively.
According to its second quarterly earnings results, Facebook serves 1.59 billion daily active users and 2.41 billion monthly active users. Across all of its apps, including Facebook, Instagram, Messenger and WhatsApp, it reported that 2.1 billion people visit at least one of its apps daily and more than 2.7 billion monthly.
It’s a vast empire, which has regulators worried on various fronts.
Facebook has been under fire thanks to federal scrutiny over its handling of user data — which resulted in a $5 billion civil penalty last month — as well as a sweep of antitrust probes. The overwhelming concern is about whether any one company should wield so much power and influence in this digital age.
In light of that, the re-branding may seem rather curious, as it highlights the company’s hold on these businesses. A source with direct knowledge of internal sentiments told WWD that Facebook sees the positive light that’s often shed on Instagram and WhatsApp, and finds it unfair that it doesn’t extend to the parent company.
Clearly the organization could use some positive headlines. But it’s not clear if it will come at the expense of the once-autonomous Instagram and WhatsApp. So far, both operations have managed to keep a healthy distance from the scandals that have plagued their parent company.
Over the past year, stories abounded that Facebook’s proactive interventions in the affairs of its highly popular ancillary social network and chat app have led to the exodus of their leaders, including Instagram chief executive officer Kevin Systrom, Instagram cofounder Mike Krieger and WhatsApp ceo Jan Koum last year.
If they bristled at the tightening control of Facebook ceo Mark Zuckerberg and his team, this latest maneuver might likely have triggered their departures — that is, if they hadn’t already left.
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