“Checked out” Whatsapp makes us forget our ‘power as customers’

Two small blue check marks lately, have driven some people’s anger and dark humor. We probably all have seen at least one of those posts using the newly introduced ‘blue check marks’ appearing in the Smartphone instant messaging app ‘Whatsapp’.

Screen Shot 2014-11-13 at 16.08.05

Photo taken from: Buzzfeed

The two little marks from now on will show the user if the person’s message has been read or not. Some say, that this will instantly let you know if the person you’ve been writing to wants to text you back or not. Some even go as far as to state the ‘blue check marks’ as a deadly new virus for our social relationships.

Those, of course not always, meant to be taken serious. Reactions and dark visions for our social life make me wonder about how we see ourselves in the role of Whatsapp- users.

It is obvious that data privacy protection is highly important in our modern cross- linked society. So every time a social media service introduces a new way to collect some more of our private information there truly is a big exclamation of revolt. This rebellion is being recorded and expressed by the media and private users on the internet.

For some weeks. Or maybe just days.

Then we all forget about the changes. We have already gotten used to the new small ‘automatic status updates’, ‘typing’- remarks, or maybe ‘blue check marks’, that are recording our online habits.

To make one thing clear: it is a great development that public attention for that topic has been risen and it is being discussed in public. But, now it’s our turn to turn that verbal public rebellion into the real power that we already own, but so far do not use

We should keep in mind that ‘Whatsapp’ and other social media providers are business companies, too. They take part in the open market just like any other company that, for example, sells microwaves.

Imagine a microwave that, after using it for a while suddenly besides warming up your food would also make it smell weird. Would you still use that microwave and just bear that weird smell while eating? Probably not.

You’ll most likely throw that microwave away and get a new one, most likely produced by another company. That seems to be a very simple and logical decision. We as the costumers decide which product we trust in and want to spend our money on.

Now think about Whatsapp again. Although the app might have started out as a free of cost supply, there are producers, designers, providers, advertisers- a company so to say- standing behind that name.

According to Wikipedia ‘Whatsapp’ is “a proprietary, cross-platform instant messaging subscription service for smartphones and selected feature phones that uses the internet for communication.” That technology and law based definition describes what we at least should see Whatsapp as.

There are different other “cross-platform instant messaging subscription service for smartphones” on the market and many other ways to communicate.

Using a different instant messenger of course won’t assure us that our data will be safe from abuse forever. But for the moment we could have taken over our power as customers and send an expressive sign to the owners of Whatsapp (Which is Facebook):

The message that their product just got worse and that this makes them lose their costumers.

If the ‘blue check marks’ do not disturb or terrify you at all that is totally fine.

But for those complaining about the new changes in Whatsapp, always remember: we are not bound to use this app, there are countless other options. If you are unhappy with a product, use your power as the costumer and go get a different one.

By: Carolin Grüning



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