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By Deepa Seetharaman and Jeffrey Horwitz
Facebook Inc. is attaching its name to Instagram and WhatsApp in a rebranding decision aimed at further unifying the company's apps that had been cultivated as separate consumer services.
It said it would add the "From Facebook" tag to its Instagram and WhatsApp brands, and the Facebook name would be visible in its marketing and to users inside the apps--moves that some inside the company oppose.
"We want to be clearer about the products and services that are part of Facebook," spokeswoman Bertie Thomson said in an email to The Wall Street Journal.
Tech news site The Information first reported the branding change, which will bring Instagram and WhatsApp in line with Workplace, Portal and Oculus, all of which incorporate Facebook into their marketing.
This is the latest move by Chief Executive Mark Zuckerberg to stitch together Facebook's family of apps, even as regulators scrutinize whether the company has acquired startups including Instagram and WhatsApp to stymie competitive threats, the Journal reported this week.
Earlier this year, Mr. Zuckerberg said Facebook would shift its focus to private communications and make it possible for users to communicate across its three central platforms -- Facebook, WhatsApp and Instagram.
Mr. Zuckerberg's efforts to unify these services have been controversial internally, according to former employees, and some insiders remain puzzled by Mr. Zuckerberg's overarching reasons for pursuing this strategy. Over the last year, Mr. Zuckerberg has adopted a more-aggressive posture internally and pushed for changes over the objections of other senior executives.
Last year, Mr. Zuckerberg discussed the "From Facebook" branding change with senior executives. Some of the executives pushed back, saying Instagram and WhatsApp are doing well and yoking them to a controversial brand might hurt those companies, according to a person familiar with the matter.
A recurring conclusion of Facebook's marketing research was that Instagram and WhatsApp were harmed by their association with Facebook's brand, according to someone familiar with the results of the research. The effect wasn't subtle: When Instagram users were told of Facebook's ownership of Instagram and asked their opinion of Instagram, they rated the platform lower than when Instagram's connection with Facebook wasn't made, the person said.
Supporters of the change believed that stitching the brands together could help burnish the Facebook brand, which has been beset by challenges stemming from myriad controversies around user privacy and misinformation.
Changes in the company's marketing structure presaged the branding move. Late last year, Facebook created a "Facebook Inc." marketing division which was meant to both coordinate and centralize the company's efforts to promote its various brands. But even then there was little discussion around or support for emphasizing Instagram and WhatsApp's connection to Facebook.
Employees working on Instagram's messaging service, Direct, were recently told they would be shifted to the Facebook Messenger team, two people familiar with the matter said. The company also recently changed corporate email addresses so employees at the various units of Facebook would all have @fb.com addresses.
Write to Deepa Seetharaman at Deepa.Seetharaman@wsj.com
(END) Dow Jones Newswires
August 02, 2019 21:55 ET (01:55 GMT)
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