Towards the start of this year, reports emerged with respect to Mark Zuckerberg's intent to integrate the messaging platforms powering WhatsApp, Instagram, and Facebook. Since then, it also came to light that Facebook might also be moving the Messenger experience back into its core app, at least in part, according to reverse engineering expert Jane Manchun Wong who speculated that the move was for "preparing integrated messaging".
While further news on inter-service messaging is yet to drop, it seems that Facebook has been testing a new feature that enables users to share their WhatsApp status to Facebook. At present, WhatsApp users can set a status using a combination of text, images, and video that persist for 24 hours before disappearing in a similar fashion to how Instagram Stories operates. In test builds for WhatsApp rolling out today, users can share their status to Facebook or other apps courtesy of new options in the user interface.
In discussion with The Verge, WhatsApp advised that there is nothing happening behind the scenes that tie Facebook and WhatsApp accounts together, merely taking advantage of the data-sharing APIs that exist in iOS and Android to make the function work. Furthermore, WhatsApp made mention that the posts on the two services will exist as distinct entities and without linkage. The company will also stop short of providing an automatic means to push a status from WhatsApp to other services, saying that it wants users to actively decide when the feature is invoked.
While this may seem to be a fairly benign feature, WhatsApp may be stressing how data is shared with or pushed to Facebook for good reason. After it declared that it would begin sharing user information with Facebook, WhatsApp faced concerns and opposition from regulators across a number of countries, including Germany, as well as the European Commission itself which later imposed a fine of €110 million ($122 million). Of course, it remains to be seen if the status sharing feature ultimately makes its way into mainstream builds of WhatsApp.