WhatsApp, the world’s leading secure messenger has confirmed its plans to become a commercial shopping site, a marketing tool for businesses to pitch their wares. This has been the risks along with Advertising from the moment Facebook acquired the platform.
Businesses will be able to use WhatsApp to transact with customers in the same way Facebook Messenger and Instagram. Is it such an issue if Facebook provides business-to-business marketing, cloud hosting and sales services to help it “continue building a business of our own, while we provide and expand free end-to-end encrypted text, video and voice calling” for its more than two billion users?
This is how easy we think messaging a business should be – seeing a store’s catalog in a chat, adding an item to your cart, placing your order and getting fast responses to questions. We are looking forward to bringing these experiences to more people on WhatsApp! pic.twitter.com/nkJyC3dOzg
— WhatsApp Inc. (@WhatsApp) October 22, 2020
The answer entirely depends on your perspective as to what a secure messenger should be. There is already a deep-seated concern among many in the security community as to what goes on behind the scenes at WhatsApp—mining messaging metadata and collecting contact details, inevitable cross-platform marketing as the integration of Facebook’s Messenger, Instagram DMs and (eventually) WhatsApp becomes a reality.
“This is how easy we think messaging a business should be,” WhatsApp says, “seeing a store’s catalog in a chat, adding an item to your cart, placing your order and getting fast responses to questions. We are looking forward to bringing these experiences to more people on WhatsApp!” Great.
WhatsApp falls behind its rivals when it comes to key messaging functionality. Multiple device access, for example, including the long-awaited iPad app. And then there’s end-to-end encrypted backups, resolving the vulnerability where WhatsApp’s recommended process to transfer chat histories to a new phone is unsecured. All of these updates are still “in development,” with beta code leaking from time to time. Meanwhile the development team seemingly have other priorities.
Facebook’s mission, meanwhile, is monetization. “We want to make shopping easier for people and empower anyone,” it says, “to use our apps to connect with customers and grow their business. That’s why we’re creating new ways for people to shop on our apps and providing tools to help businesses sell online.”