WhatsApp: You are the Product

Source: https://blog.hootsuite.com/11-people-join-social-every-second/

When was the last time you actually pruned your phone’s address book? Might you have an ex in there? A competitor? Someone whose profession is, uh, less than legal?

WhatsApp says they have access to your messages though they are “end to end” (e2e) encrypted so they can’t see the content and they don’t retain them on their servers unless pending delivery. Let’s just go ahead and accept that the platform is actually e2e encrypted. To their credit they started off with the Open Whisper Systems (same as Signal) crypto libraries. Real security concerns, however, have been raised around WhatsApp e2e encryption (https://www.wired.com/story/whatsapp-security-flaws-encryption-group-chats/) but that’s a separate topic. Even without the content of our messages, WhatsApp has all the metadata. You may not think it’s that much information, but don’t forget, Facebook paid $19,000,000,000 to buy WhatsApp in 2014 when they only had 450m monthly active users. That’s $42 PER USER. Surely this wasn’t altruism. The metadata is valuable.

If the product is free, then you are the product.

Think about a couple astounding factoids about WhatsApp usage as of Jan 2019 per https://www.businessofapps.com/data/whatsapp-statistics/:

https://www.businessofapps.com/data/whatsapp-statistics/
Source: www.twitter.com

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