The Dark Side of Messaging Services

June 24, 2014

As the old saying goes: What happens in Messaging stays in Messaging.

The dark side

This is something I didn’t expect. A post earlier this month on TNW by Kaylene Hong reported on Tencent shutting down 20 million accounts:

Tencent revealed today that it has shut down a whopping 20 million accounts on its WeChat messaging app, as they were linked with providing prostitution services. It has also closed 30,000 public fake accounts.

That is a staggering amount of ~5% of its monthly active users. In a world where the race to the top of the messaging pile is on, that is a huge loss.

While this is China, and we can’t really know if these accounts were related to prostitution services – or just to things the Chinese government didn’t favor – it does bring with it some interesting food for thought: up until now, the closest behavior I was aware of was sexting.

Each technology being introduced can be used for good or bad. I’ve recommended a science fiction book on the adoption of technology, which is appropriate here as well.

This brings me to the ephemeral and private messaging services that are rolling out on a daily basis. Here are a few that comes to mind:

  • Snapchat, the teenage’s sexting tool of choice (and the acquirer of AddLive)
  • Telegram, a messaging service that came to our attention when Whatsapp got acquired by Facebook. They offer encryption and the ability to delete messages. They took a step further to publicize the protocol they use, which is an interesting step. Not a big player, but an interesting one
  • FireChat, which can communicate without any direct internet connection from your device; targeted at those looking for privacy from their government
  • Secret, enabling us to share our secrets anonymously

All of these services are aimed to restore our “lost” privacy from the ongoing Snowden revelation. Each taking a different approach to it. And all can be extremely powerful tools, but can also be abused.

Is this just a trend or are these services showing the way to the future of messaging?

You may also like

WebRTC video calling table stakes

WebRTC video calling table stakes

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked

{"email":"Email address invalid","url":"Website address invalid","required":"Required field missing"}