In an about-face that rankled many of its core users this week, mobile messaging service WhatsApp announced it would relax its strident privacy restrictions. The company will soon begin sharing some of its users’ information — such as their phone numbers — with Facebook, which bought WhatsApp in 2014.
The announcement was viewed as a betrayal by users who pointed out that WhatsApp’s founders promised the Facebook deal would not affect privacy on WhatsApp. But while WhatsApp’s 1 billion users adjust to the news, some marketers are already seeing dollar signs. Brands, they say, will be able to deliver WhatsApp users receipts, shipping updates and urgent messages — for example, information about a delay to their upcoming flight.