Why is WhatsApp not taking affiliate money?

First and foremost: This post is not about WhatsApp vs anything else, yes it is Facebook/Meta/EvilCorp, yes Signal is better 😉

This is just a short thought I have: Why is WhatsApp not doing affiliate marketing on the links send within its platform?
We all know (do we?) that Facebook bought WhatsApp back then for 19 Billion USD…which is quite a chunk of money. As they are a profit oriented company, we do live in a capitalistic society, it is absolute valid to think how to get that money back and make even more. (Toooo the moon 🐶🚀)
One way how Facebook is making money via WhatsApp it is by using the social graph information and combine them with Facebook data to get more insights about the WhatsApp users and retarget us via Ads on the other Facebook properties e.g. Instagram… EvilCorp stuff. Nice that WhatsApp has E2E encryption, but the Metadata about conversations are just as valuable (and better machine-readable) as the content.

In order to convince Facebook to stop that:

Dear Mark Zuckerberg, I would like to offer you a different privacy-preserving business model for WhatsApp: Make all links to product pages send via the platform affiliate links

Simon Frey

This could be done entirely client-side without the need to ever send information about the links/products we send to Facebook:

func makeAffiliateDollars(url string)string{ 
  case strings.HasPrefix(url,"https://amazon.com): 
    return url+"?affiliateTrackingCode=zuck22" 
  case strings.HasPrefix(url,"https://ebay.com): 
    return url+"?idMe=sugarmountain" 

If I do my silly back-of-hand math:

I send about 3 product links per month, WhatsApp has 2 Billion active users and let’s assume an average affiliate commission of 0.01$ (which I guess is low, if I believe all the “you can get rich with Amazon”-guides I found when searching for the average affiliate commission on Amazon which are more in the ballpark of >0.75$)…this would result in about 720 Million USD per year 💸💸

Okay, we would still need about 26 years to earn back the initial purchase price (assuming no inflation at all), but

Hey Mark, you are still young. Don’t steal users data, but take Jeffs affiliate money.

Simon Frey

Another, even more radical thought: Disable clickability of links if good old Bezos doesn’t want to pay. Might annoy some users as well, but would say a little less consuming isn’t the worst thing to start with in 2022.

Hope you enjoyed this little piece. I also write a bit more serious stuff…checkout the rest of the blog ✌️

See ya all on Signal,


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