In anticipation of the Digital Markets Act (DMA) deadline, WhatsApp announces plans to introduce third-party chat support, aiming to foster messaging interoperability within its platform.
In a recent interview with Wired, Dick Brouwer, an engineering director at WhatsApp, revealed the company’s readiness to facilitate interoperability among its user base of over 2 billion individuals. Brouwer emphasized the delicate balance between enabling seamless third-party integration while upholding WhatsApp’s standards for privacy, security, and integrity.
The DMA, ratified by the EU in 2022, mandates major platforms like WhatsApp and Messenger to open their doors to other messaging services, aligning with efforts to promote fair competition within the digital market.
Meta, WhatsApp’s parent company, is also in the process of integrating support for other chat apps into Messenger. This initiative will initially focus on enabling one-on-one communication across different platforms, allowing users to exchange various media types such as text, audio, video, images, and files.
Brouwer highlighted the opt-in nature of this feature to mitigate potential issues like spam and scams, emphasizing user control over their messaging experiences. Companies seeking interoperability with Meta’s ecosystem will need to engage in an agreement, with specific terms yet to be disclosed. Notably, WhatsApp insists on maintaining end-to-end encryption as a prerequisite for interoperability, although the recent App Store policy changes by Apple suggest potential complexities in negotiation.
While WhatsApp has collaborated with the open-source messaging protocol Matrix on an experimental basis to ensure end-to-end encryption compatibility, the roadmap for interoperability with other major platforms like Telegram, Viber, and Google remains uncertain.
Brouwer acknowledged that achieving feature parity between third-party chats and WhatsApp’s native functionality might pose challenges, citing potential privacy and security implications associated with broader interoperability.
As WhatsApp prepares to navigate the evolving landscape of messaging services, the introduction of third-party chat support signifies a significant step toward enhancing user choice and fostering a more interconnected digital ecosystem.