FEB 6, 2018:
There is a lot going on over at WhatsApp this year – but what does that mean for you? Here are three things you need to know.
1. WhatsApp Business launches
In January, The Verge reported that the platform had designed a separate app specifically to help small businesses connect with customers called WhatsApp Business. Features include dedicated business profiles (verification badges coming soon!), plus tools including greetings, quick replies, and away messages, as well as messaging metrics. If you have a business number and a personal one, you can even merge your two WhatsApp accounts on the same device, or on WhatsApp Web. Could this be a new way for you to directly communicate with your followers?
It seems WhatsApp has already begun preparing users for marketing messages, signaled by a change in the brand’s Terms and Conditions: ‘Messages you may receive containing marketing could include an offer for something that might interest you. We do not want you to have a spammy experience; as with all of your messages, you can manage these communications, and we will honor the choices you make.’ We’ll have to wait and see whether users embrace this or not.
WhatsApp Business is currently only available for Android users, in Indonesia, Italy, Mexico, the UK, and the US, with a global rollout scheduled in the coming weeks.
2. Anti-spam alerts in the works
Speaking of spam… WhatsApp has been ‘testing out notifications that alert users if they receive a message that has been forwarded many times, or if they are about to forward one of these messages themselves, as reported by TechCrunch.’ If you receive one of these messages, you’ll see ‘Forwarded Many Times’ under the sender’s name, and if you’re about to send along one of these messages, you’ll see at the top of the forward screen ‘A message you are forwarding has been forwarded many times.’ As yet, WhatsApp has not commented on this, or whether it has plans to implement it officially. This move is important, as it demonstrates the network making steps towards taking responsibility as the debate around spam and fake news across social media heats up.
3. Scam tricks users into fees
Alerts like the kind mentioned above might be exactly what is needed to combat the rise in WhatsApp scams, like the subscription fee con that surfaced last year in the UK. Users reported receiving a text or email asking to click on a link in order to continue using the messaging service, they would then be requested to input personal information and payment details, including their credit card number. This also opens users up to the risk of hackers infecting their device with malware after visiting an unverified webpage. Although the company previously asked its users to pay a $1 annual subscription fee, this ended in 2016. If you receive a message like this, it’s best to report it and delete it immediately.
Are you a regular WhatsApp user? Share your thoughts in the comments!
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