Meta Revamps WhatsApp to Meet EU ‘Gatekeeper’ Rules


Meta has reportedly updated WhatsApp to comply with new European Union (EU) rules.

As TechCrunch reported Monday (Sept. 11), the tech giant is developing a beta version of its messaging service that includes a new screen for third-party chats. 

PYMNTS has contacted Meta for comment but has not yet received a reply.

The change is designed to comply with an interoperability requirement under the EU’s Digital Markets Act (DMA), meaning that users of platforms like Signal or Telegram should be able to send messages via WhatsApp and not have to create a WhatsApp account.

The rule applies to companies designated as “gatekeepers” by the EU, a distinction that applies to Meta, Alphabet, Amazon, Apple, ByteDance and Microsoft. The companies have six months to comply with DMA, which is designed to curb anti-competitive behavior.

“Under the DMA, the European Commission can designate digital platforms as ‘gatekeepers’ if they provide an important gateway between businesses and consumers in relation to core platform services,” the commission said in a news release.

Those services include businesses such as social networks (Facebook and Instagram, and ByteDance-owned TikTok), “intermediation” (Google Ads, Amazon Marketplace, the Apple App Store) and operating systems (Google’s Android and Apple’s iOS).

As noted here last week, the DMA is designed to apply strict regulations to companies that “have previously operated with relative impunity, despite undergoing numerous investigations that resulted in substantial fines and tax liabilities.”

The DMA makes it illegal for certain platforms to prioritize their services over those of competitors. It also blocks them from amalgamating personal data from different services, bars them from using data collected from third-party merchants to carry out competitive practices against them, and requires them to allow users to download apps from rival platforms.

The Tech Crunch report notes that it’s not yet clear how Meta will implement interoperability in WhatsApp for advanced features, such as file sharing, video calls and audio messages, or how it will handle end-to-end encryption.

In addition to the new WhatsApp, Meta is apparently engaged in a much larger project: a new version of its artificial intelligence system.

Meta is reportedly working on a new artificial intelligence (AI) system to compete with OpenAI. A report Sunday (Sept. 10) by the The Wall Street Journal said the company hopes to launch its new AI system next year, and to make it significantly more powerful than the Llama 2 AI model Meta released this summer.

Although Meta collaborated with Microsoft for the launch of Llama 2, it apparently hopes to train the new model using its own infrastructure, sources told the Journal.