Facebook, WhatsApp and Instagram will be merging into a 'single messaging service' next year, according to reports.

The three platforms will still exist as stand-alone apps, but messaging functionality would be shared across them, so users on Instagram could text people on WhatsApp, reports The Sun.

The merger is expected to be completed by the end of 2019, or early 2020.

The move, however, will not be easy.

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Technical evangelist at Synopsys, Tim Mackey told The Sun: "Given the spotty history Facebook have in managing user privacy settings, merging personal information and privacy configurations from three significant applications won't be trivial."

According to the New York Times, the idea is being masterminded by Facebook's billionaire chief executive Mark Zuckerberg, in a bid to keep users hooked and not turning to its rivals Apple and Google.

In 2012, Facebook purchased Instagram for US$1 billion ($1.4b) and two years later acquired WhatsApp for US$19b.

As of 2018, Facebook has around 2.27 billion users, while WhatsApp has around 1.5 billion users and Instagram surpassed 1 billion, according to statista.com.