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WhatsApp prepares support for conversations with users of other apps

WhatsApp has already started working on the changes demanded by the European Union. The application will have a part dedicated to sending and receiving messages from users of other services. The novelty appeared on Sunday (10) in a beta for Android and is called “third-party chats”. It’s separate from the default WhatsApp inbox.

For now, the new section doesn’t work and there’s nothing there. The idea seems to be that messages sent by other apps — a Telegram or a Signal of life, for example — stay in this area.

The European Union has set a six-month deadline for interoperability, so the appeal will have to be ready by March 2024.

Under the bloc’s new rules, called the Digital Markets Act (DMA), six companies are defined as “gatekeepers” for dominating key sectors of the internet: Alphabet (which owns Google and YouTube), Amazon, Apple, ByteDance (which owns TikTok), Meta and Microsoft.

Thus, WhatsApp and Messenger, both from Meta, will need to meet interoperability requirements.

This means they’ll need to send and receive messages from other apps, even if users of those apps don’t have a WhatsApp or Messenger account.

Those who use Telegram, Signal or Snapchat, to name a few examples, can send a message to a friend or relative who is not on any of these platforms, only WhatsApp.

The idea is that users are not required to use the applications of a company that dominates the market, such as Meta, and facilitate the entry of new competitors.

It may sound simple, but there are some technical challenges involved. WhatsApp has more than just text messaging: the app offers sending files, calls, audio messages and end-to-end encryption. Experts believe WhatsApp’s security may be at risk.

Meta issues with Europe go beyond WhatsApp
Since conversations with third parties are still in beta, we’ll have to wait and see how they work out in practice. Another question is whether this will be exclusive to users in the European Union or whether Meta will release interoperability in other countries.

Currently, the company does not offer Threads, Instagram’s text-based social network, in Europe. Meta says there are “complexities in enforcing some laws.” The problem may lie in the reuse of Instagram’s user base on Threads.

The company, incidentally, would also be preparing a paid version of Facebook and Instagram, without ads. This would be a way to escape the scrutiny of the European Union, showing that users have the option to escape the targeting of advertisements.

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