WhatsApp’s rise and recent PR efforts highlight a class of business models that I call “user domestication”.

This is a very well-written post, and it’s sad, because the same thing is going to happen with it as with all the other well-written take-downs of proprietary, siloed, platforms: the people who /need/ to read it aren’t /going/ to read it, and WhatsApp (slash Facebook, slash Twitter, slash Instagram, slash Signal, slash …) is still going to be used by a huge portion of the population.

Maybe I just feel really cynical today. I do think that “user domestication” is a great metaphor for what happens. I guess what I’m saying is: fighting against this kind of corporate behavior feels about as effective as fighting against factory farming by going vegetarian. Like, sure, it helps, but the machine is /so big/. It’s hard to feel like we’re doing anything.


Sad to say it may have been the uploading of contacts (clever WhatsApp) that just made it easy for users to find each other and no when new contacts joined up. The free calls etc was available on other service slike XMPP (many modern messengers grew out of using XMPP underneath).

Sad part is just that it was not only about capturing all our contacts but actually exposing privacy in this way. But from the FB and WhatsApp perspective it was gold as they knew psychologically that “connecting” would lure people in.

Yes XMPP has one service that I posted about in the XMPP community here, where anyone can register with their phone number (separate from your day to day account) and then you will be alerted if your contacts join AND sign up at that same service. Well it is a bit of a privacy issue and also relies on them all signing up there. So probably not very effective.


deleted by creator


Author here; thanks for the feedback. I just updated that section to address this. Diff.

I can’t believe I forgot about free calls; my parents and extended family depended on that for international calls. VOIP services were already a thing, but I’m not sure how many of them were both gratis and better for user freedom than WA.

Ping @copacetic@lemmy.ml

(F1rst P0st!)


This is what i remember as well. Free SMS and then free calls was the pitch.

I think the killer feature for most people was simply that anyone whose number you had in your phone’s address book would, without any further configuration, become available as a WhatsApp contact if they, too, had installed the app. That made it usable even by people so unfamiliar with technology that the concept of creating an account was foreign to them. No password, no username, just your phone’s address book and the app, that’s it. Open IM technologies at the time like XMPP didn’t have this (at least to my knowledge), and even today, while Matrix has this feature via identity servers, it takes manual effort to set it up (as it should be, though it could be streamlined somewhat in Element AFAICT).


FWIW, this is also a feature in Signal, another closed platform I covered.

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