WhatsApp Users To Receive Adverts
WhatsApp said sharing users' phone numbers with Facebook would help tackle spam and abuse, as well as offer people "better friend suggestions and more relevant ads". Using the data, Facebook will be able to match people who have exchanged phone numbers, but have not added one another as "friends" on the social network. WhatsApp will also share information about when people last used the service, but said it would not share the contents of messages, which are encrypted.
"Your encrypted messages stay private and no-one else can read them. Not WhatsApp, not Facebook, nor anyone else," the company said in a blogpost. The company said users would be able to opt out of sharing information with Facebook by following the steps outlined on its website. "When WhatsApp was acquired by Facebook it was able to reassure users that it would remain independent. Now it's giving Facebook phone numbers some might say that's a betrayal of trust. In a small way, it has gone back on what it said it wouldn't do," said Pamela Clark-Dickson, principal analyst at Ovum.
The company said it would test such messaging features in the coming months, but promised to avoid a "spammy experience" where people are inundated with ads. Other messaging apps such as China's WeChat have already enabled business-to-consumer communication to great success, but Ms Clark-Dickson suggested WhatsApp would take a different approach. "WeChat is a content-driven platform," she told the BBC. "It opened up its platform to third parties, letting people make payments, book taxis. That seems to be the direction Facebook is taking Messenger. WhatsApp has the potential to be a great communication facility, if it concentrates on a solid user experience as its differential."