WhatsApp, encrypted messages don’t matter, your number does.


I’m always bemused when users read tech press comments, company gets acquired and the ringing message in the piece is, “this acquisition won’t change the way users interact with our product”. Of course it will…..

Facebook acquires Instagram, rapid user growth, it made sense. Facebook acquires WhatsApp, okay wasn’t expecting that one (and certainly not for $19Bn) and “it won’t change the service”…..Of course it will….

Phone Number + Facebook Profile = Targeted Insight

The relaxation of WhatsApp interaction with Facebook was always going to happen, you’d have to be pretty naive to think it wasn’t. Even with the encrypted messages that merely skims the surface of messaging as an advertising medium. WhatApp have your number at signup and if you join that with your phone number on your Facebook profile…. well you’ve got the advertising segments, likes, friends, events, movements, checkins and so on. WhatsApp just joined the big old advertising platform graph.


And if you think that the WhatsApp is generated, which it is, remember that Facebook own the whole shebang and will easily be able to generate the same. Even when you mangle it through a MD5 digest it’s still an id of sorts. Perform the same digest on the phone number of your Facebook profile you’ll get a match.

MD5 ("+447900316123plusmyreallylongIMEI") = f6dde26f21be9acef37667d770c95869

Non of this should be a surprise. Expect the ads to roll in soon and remember the old adage, “if you are using a service for free, you are the product”.



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