Yes, You Should Leave WhatsApp
WhatsApp started in February 2009 and quickly became the world’s messaging service because of the network effect and it was unique in itself. Unique in terms that when it launched, personal messaging was through SMS and it costed money. WhatsApp made it possible to send a message through the internet to anyone in the world as long as they are on the same platform and cost zero money to send a message. It was eventually acquired by Facebook in 2014.
The hot debate right now is that should you leave WhatsApp because of new terms and conditions and go use different messenger app out there like telegram and signal. Let’s talk about some things regarding that.
Whatsapp is owned by Facebook, the largest social sharing platform and it’s one of the biggest media giants out there. Facebook’s large part of income source comes from the ads. I’m here quoting the revenue data which is available publicly, you can check for yourselves. Ads sales are the primary source of revenue for them. Facebook posted $21.2 billion in advertising revenue in Q3 2020, comprising 99% of the company’s total revenue. It’s a huge amount if you ask me.
But Facebook didn’t acquire WhatsApp just to keep it free and not make money. A business doesn’t operate that way. And Facebook didn’t spend $19 billion down to drain just for nothing. Facebook must have something in their course of action to make revenue from it.
When something online is free, you’re not the customer, you’re the product.
How does WhatsApp make money?
WhatsApp is free for personal use.
WhatsApp makes money through ads as well as a business platform called WhatsApp For Business API. With the Click to WhatsApp ad system, users see an ad on Facebook, which they can follow to message the company on WhatsApp.
The messaging service remains free for businesses, but there are charges associated with certain actions. Communicating with customers using WhatsApp for Business is free. The app charges a fee if businesses take longer than 24 hours to reply to a query.
Causes for Concern
You think your data is not worth anything. But that’s where you are wrong. In the right hands, it’s gold to the right bidder. The data you share with them can be used against you. To target the ads for you.
Your data tells a lot about you. Your likes, your dislikes. Things about your social circle. What makes you tick. What makes you trigger. Your opinions. Your biases. Political inclinations. Self Perception. The environment around you.
It could be a boon for your life. Or it can be a nightmare. Depends on what they do with the information, and can you trust them with it.
The company whose major source of revenue comes from ads, for them the more data about someone they can get, the more they earn revenue. Based on your data, they construct the profile about you and then they will recommend the products that someone like you has purchased based on data they have. You are more likely to purchase the products they recommended and in turn, they make money. This is the true motive I think why WhatsApp is asking about the data to share and keep on the Facebook servers.
The concept behind this is that relies on the network effect. Let’s say you purchased some product. Now the data about it can be used to make recommendations of a similar product to the contacts in your social circle. And also used to recommend around your social demographic data. People base their decisions on their social environment. They are more likely to purchase that product compared to the random anonymous person out there. That how targeted advertising works.
Now after these new terms take effect, it means all that data would be forwarded and kept on Facebook’s servers. I don’t know the purpose of keeping all that huge data apart from the fact that to use it for targeted advertising.
How WhatsApp can be monetized?
I am speculating here but it is very much probable. Dealing in the ad space, Facebook will very much likely do something related to ads.
It introduces ads on their app. You will see ads from various businesses on the app keeping it free. Using our data against ourselves to target some product or service.
Also it already has introduced the payments systems in it. WhatsApp pay is already live in some countries. Much of the future course of action remains a mystery and only time will tell what might Facebook unfold.
The Alternative to Use
Now coming to other side, what to do if you leave WhatsApp. There are options to consider to use other than WhatsApp. Different apps have emerged after WhatsApp came. Two of them are Telegram and Signal.
Both are made on the grounds of privacy features built-in. They don’t need any data from you. That’s what makes them different from WhatsApp.
Signal is a new messaging app that is an independent non-profit and uses privacy features. It has got a lot of attention after the famous Elon Musk tweeted about it.
As stated in the above chart, signal doesn’t collect any data about you compared to other messenger apps out there. I highly recommend switching to signal if you are privacy-focused and don’t want to share the data that can be targeted against you. And also tell your social circle about it so they can also make the right decisions about their data.
Telegram is also an alternative to signal. It’s just a personal preference between telegram and signal. Choose the one based on your social circle because if you are the only one on it then it’s of no use.
At last, privacy is important. We live in the world of information. Data is like the key to your own online home. You don’t want any unwanted visitors to your home. Your data can help other shape you, change you and bend you according to their will. That’s why it’s important to safeguard your data. If you will not safeguard your data then nobody will.