Mark Zuckerberg says content encryption won’t affect business much; testing WhatsApp Pay actively in India

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Updated: April 27, 2019 3:30:40 PM

While Facebook's Mark Zuckerberg claimed of encrypting user content to ensure privacy, the company had used its users’ data as a 'bargaining chip' to reward favoured third-party companies and developers to consolidate its dominance in social networking space.

WhatsApp Pay will take on Alibaba-backed Paytm, Flipkart’s PhonePe, Google Pay, Amazon Pay, MobiKwik etc. (Bloomberg)

Even as Mark Zuckerberg claimed testing its payments platform — WhatsApp Pay — for WhatsApp’s biggest market globally — India during Facebook’s Q1 2019 earnings call with analysts, he underscored that the company “doesn’t use the content of messages between people to target ads today.” Once launched, WhatsApp Pay will take on Alibaba-backed Paytm, Flipkart’s PhonePe, Google Pay, Amazon Pay, MobiKwik etc.

Importantly, in order to consolidate Facebook’s dominance in social networking space Mark Zuckerberg had used its users’ data as a ‘bargaining chip’ to reward favoured third-party companies and developers even as it incentivised companies who shared their data with Facebook, showed around 4,000 pages of leaked documents largely for the period 2011 – 2015 accessed by NBC News.

For instance, Facebook provided access to Amazon to user data since it was spending money on Facebook advertising and partnering with it on the launch of its Fire smartphone, NBC News reported earlier this month. This comes amid Facebook’s repeated claims of protecting user privacy.

“You should expect that we won’t store sensitive data in countries where it might be improperly accessed because of weak rule of law or governments that can forcibly get access to your data,” Mark Zuckerberg said during the conference call. The transcript for the call is available at investor.fb.com.

Mark Zuckerberg said that encrypting content will strengthen people’s privacy without meaningfully affecting the business. “Our stance on data localization is a risk. That is, if we get blocked in a major country, that will hurt our community and our business. But our principles on data localization aren’t new and this is always a risk.”

During the call, Facebook’s co-founder also disclosed testing of WhatsApp’s payment platform in India although he didn’t confirm the time for its launch. “I don’t want to put a timeframe on that here, but it’s something that we’re actively working on,” said Mark Zuckerberg.

WhatsApp has over 200 million monthly active users in India.

Facebook hit 2.38-billion monthly-user mark in the last quarter, up by 2.5 per cent from 2.32 billion in the preceding quarter and boasts of 1.56 billion daily active users that increased from 1.52 billion in Q4 2018.

Facebook’s revenue increased to $15.08 billion in Q1 2019, up 26 per cent from the same quarter last year.

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