Yesterday, mobile messaging app WhatsApp started banning users from connecting to its platform via third-party developer apps.
Last night the company issued a statement:
“Our goal is always to keep WhatsApp fast and secure for the people who use it — it’s the most important thing we do. Third parties that have built unauthorized functionality on top of WhatsApp create issues for people including lost messages. This goes against the experience we work hard to give people and we won’t let it continue. Starting today, we are taking aggressive action against unauthorized apps and alerting the people who use them. We will move these people over to WhatsApp so they can continue to communicate with friends and family reliably and safely. “
It’s not just lost messages that WhatsApp has to lose by allowing consumers to connect via third-party clients. There are also major security concerns. Remember “The Snappening”? Third-party apps were the reason Snapchat user photos were leaked from Snapchat and put up on 4chan. Like Snapchat, WhatsApp has no control over how third-party developers build their apps or how they secure them.
Even though Snapchat’s technology wasn’t responsible for the photo leaks, “the Snappening” was a major blow to Snapchat’s brand. To avoid the same fate, WhatsApp is wise to disentangle from third-party developer apps now.
There is one more reason WhatsAppp would want to ban third-party apps, though it didn’t mention this in its statement: In order to monetize WhatsApp, parent company Facebook is relying on charging consumers for in-app purchases and upgrades. If third-party developers offer those services for free, WhatsApp will have a harder time reaping a profit from its own features.