Advertisement

  • News
  • Columns
  • Interviews
  • BW Communities
  • Events
  • BW TV
  • Subscribe to Print
BW Businessworld

Remember Who Owns WhatsApp?

Alarm bells went off as users worried about whether their data would stay private from Facebook, known as it was for using information about users as it saw fit

Photo Credit : Reuters

1453968238_Ubddcw_WHATSAPP-870.jpg

When Facebook bought Instagram for $1 billion in cash and stock back in 2012, the photo sharing network's users were alarmed at what that would change. Just how Facebook-like would Instagram become? mark Zuckerberg was quick to reassure users that Facebook would keep its hands off Instagram. Apart from letting Instagram user share photos to Facebook, there wasn't much evident to the connection between the two on an everyday basis.

And then Facebook bought popular messaging app WhatsApp. A whopping $19 billion deal that immediately gave Facebook access to another massive base of users. Alarm bells went off as users worried about whether their data would stay private from Facebook, known as it was for using information about users as it saw fit. WhatsApp's CEO Jan Koum had written, in a blog post, that respect for users' privacy was coded into WhatsApp's very DNA. And again, Facebook largely stayed out of WhatsApp's hair and the experience for those who were users of both, has been separate.

But what looks like it was coded into the DNA was a link with Facebook. Recently, a developer found a setting hidden inside a beta version of Facebook for Android that allows WhatsApp users to share their WhatsApp information with Facebook apparently to improve their Facebook experience.

And now, all pretences are off as WhatsApp is going to build in integration with Facebook, going by leaked screenshots of upcoming features from Android developer Javier Santos. The connection between Facebook and WhatsApp will however be optional. At the same time, conversations will be encrypted to keep them private so that apparently even WhatsApp can't read them.

How exactly the Facebook experience is to improve is not yet clear but almost certainly it has to do with algorithms that will push more 'personalised' and 'relevant' content to the user.

WhatsApp just scrapped the fee it actually never charged but which was stated in the sign up process. Cynics say this was to appease users before the integration takes places. Either way, this is not yet an official announcement.


sentifi.com

Top themes and market attention on: