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Meta’s Anti-iMessage Ad Campaign Promotes WhatsApp Instead

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The ad, which will be shown at Pennsylvania Station in New York City, is relatively straightforward, mocking the green bubble/blue bubble dichotomy and urging users to use WhatsApp instead so they can get end-to-end encryption. can use to send private messages. However, in his post, Zuckerberg is more direct, saying WhatsApp is “much more private and secure than iMessage, with end-to-end encryption that works on both iPhones and Android, including group chats.” He also points out a few features, such as disappearing chats and end-to-end encrypted backups, which WhatsApp has and iMessage does not.

Meta isn’t the only company giving Apple a hard time about iMessage. Google has pushed Apple to use RCS, a successor to SMS, in its Messages app. So far, Apple doesn’t seem to have any plans to do this, with CEO Tim Cook telling users to just buy the people they want to interact with with an iPhone. However, it is always possible that its stance could change if WhatsApp becomes a substantial competitor in the US.

The privacy ad campaign is a big push for Meta. Spokesperson Vispi Bhopti said: The edge that it will “appear on broadcast TV, digital video, outdoors and on social media in the United States,” and billboards will appear in New York, San Francisco, and Los Angeles. Earlier this year, the company made it clear that it wants to grow WhatsApp’s user base in the US; although it has 2 billion users worldwide (as basically all our international readers point out in the comments of an article about the importance of iMessage), it is not the de facto messaging service in America. Meta comparing WhatsApp to something people are familiar with doesn’t seem like a bad way to go in theory.

Meta has previously marketed WhatsApp based on privacy and security; earlier this year it was placed an ad that compared sending text messages to using a postman to open your letters and packages. The fact that iMessage reverts to SMS and cannot be used to securely message people with Android phones is a fair criticism of Apple’s privacy-focused advertising around the iPhone. It also doesn’t help that you use the same Messages app to send both secure and insecure messages, something Signal recently said it wouldn’t let you do anymore because it was confusing.

Zuckerberg is also right that iMessage doesn’t have disappearing messages (although iOS 16 introduced the ability to take back messages up to two minutes after you sent them, assuming the person you’re talking to has the most up-to-date software) , nor are the backups end-to-end encrypted. As privacy experts have warnedthe latter means law enforcement can technically access your iMessage history if they have a subpoena or warrant, as long as you — or the person you’re messaging with — have Messages in iCloud enabled.

Of course, perception is everything in advertising, and Meta has a… say, less than stellar reputation when it comes to privacy. Beneath Zuckerberg’s post and the Doubt Delivered video, there are several comments asking why anyone would trust WhatsApp: “Looks like WhatsApp would do just that. It’s owned by Facebook lolol,” one user said in the ad about carriers opening your email Another user responded to Penn Station’s ad by telling Zuckerberg, “I’m happy as long as all my data is shared with your advertisers 💕”

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