It seems you’re living in some fabricated wonderland if you think there’s anyway we can have useful…
Louis Blackburn

In a way I understand how the data-sharing might be beneficial. Mostly beneficial for the Facebook family of companies. This is because their business model relies on selling ad space and convincing marketers that they should buy the space.

That’s part of the problem, they are doing it to enrich their business model, not the experience consumers or the target audience will experience. You can collect all this data, but if you analyse it poorly, the target audience will see no benefit.

Now, for myself not being part of Facebook, don’t want my data to be shared with the rest of the Facebook family of companies. I use WhatsApp for WhatsApp. I don’t mind sharing my data on WhatsApp for improving the experience of WhatsApp. I don’t want my data shared with services I am not using or interested in supporting.

Apart from the aforementioned, I understand what you mean with:

The holy grail of advertising is where something is so personal that it recommends something that you actually need

The thing is, most of the marketing is based on something you might desire or want and then creating the perception that a this want is a need. Needs are based on something you require to survive; objectively, physically or socially. I’m pretty sure most of the time it is easier to sell the idea of a socially similar group of people to need something because socially others in a similar social stance or interests wants it.

I can see where Facebook is heading with the commercialization of messages within WhatsApp. Their, revised, privacy policy states:

We will allow you and third parties, like businesses, to communicate with each other using WhatsApp, such as through order, transaction, and appointment information, delivery and shipping notifications, product and service updates, and marketing. For example, you may receive flight status information for upcoming travel, a receipt for something you purchased, or a notification when a delivery will be made. Messages you may receive containing marketing could include an offer for something that might interest you.

So in essence, I might have been (assumed privately) talking about watches while with a booked flight to JFK International and get the following: “Gareth, we would just like to remind you of your flight (JFK-123) in 48 hours to JFK International. Please remember to check in to online and choose your favourite seat. Be sure to stop at the Airport Tag Heuer store for a personal discount of up to 10% on any purchase made on the airport. Use reference JFK123GDTH10.”

Am I opposed to the convenience of notifications? No. Am I opposed to them sending me unsolicited marketing messages? Yes. Am I opposed to them analyzing my, perceived, private information to generate the content? Hell yes!

I could be wrong, as I am not a marketer.

Personally, I hate marketing, but find the psychology behind why and how they do it fascinating. I hate marketers being able to target me, directly (or indirectly), through various platforms because of sneaky data-sharing.

I’m saying sneaky because when I joined WhatsApp, I didn’t mind paying the $2/year to keep ads/marketing away. So WhatsApp wasn’t free. Facebook bought WhatsApp in 2014 and promised that they plan on making WhatsApp free while not displaying any ads. Now they are reversing on this as they need to improve investor confidence on being able to lure marketers by using my data to generate money for them.

Thanks, but no thanks. If that’s the case, just bring the $2 per year back, or make it $4 per year (double the money) for all I care. As long as my WhatsApp data stays in WhatsApp.

Like you said, there is not such thing as a free lunch, and my data is also not free.

Show your support

Clapping shows how much you appreciated Gareth David’s story.