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2019-05-12 Muting Whatsapp tells me it's a social media platform not an IM app

Dear friends,

Most people think Whatsapp is a messaging app. It's not. It's a social media platform.

When I first used Whatsapp (I'm guessing around 2011) here's how I used it:

Whatsapp was a free replacement for texting with some cool multimedia options. I messaged a small network of friends and family when I needed to. A neat instant messenger.

Now it's a fully embedded part of my social fabric. I use it every single day. I use it on my phone and on my laptop, it's always there. It's the first app I install on any new device. It's slowly creeped up to being one of those technologies I can't live without.

But what about it makes it a social media platform and not an instant message app? Ask your self this - if it's not a social media platform, why do I have to keep using the mute feature?

Here's Wikipedia's definition of a social media:

Social media are interactive computer-mediated technologies that facilitate the creation and sharing of information, ideas, career interests and other forms of expression via virtual communities and networks.

Yep, I guess Whatsapp ticks those boxes. More so that I'm now in a few larger community groups. People share all sorts of content. Exactly the same type of content they'd share on facebook or instagram (and in some cases content they wouldn't!)

Not only had the the group aspect blown up. It's now also used as workplace messaging tool. I'm getting work files sent via Whatsapp and seeing people use it used as a substitute for email. Equally, its now a family hub to share holiday snaps and videos.

I'm starting to realise the power of Zucks grand plans and his huge focus on messenger(s). Whatsapp could turn out to be the most lucrative acquisition of the past decade. It's becoming so embedded into the way society communicates, it is the new telecommunications infrastructure of the digital age. Work life, Private Life, Public Life - all communicated through the little green app with the friendly name.

So what?

It's a good thing and it's free. It's encrypted (if you believe facebook) so your messages are private. All Zuck can harvest is the metadata - which is actually a pretty bad deal for privacy. It's not a problem now, but perhaps tying the way humanity communicates publicly and privately into a centralised, US based tech monopoly with a history of dodgy business practises may not be a great idea in the long run.

I'll keep on using Whatsapp, because it's a great app, and I can connect with 1.5billion users on it. It will be interesting to observe how this social media platform continues to evolve in the future.

Cheers and all the best,


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