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Financial Times starts delivering news through WhatsApp

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WhatsApp News, Financial Times, Media, Instant Messaging

Earlier this week UK-based publisher and media company the Financial Times (FT), announced the introduction of a WhatsApp broadcast service which will be used to distribute content to its readers.

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To sign up a user needs to create a new contact for the number +49 1579 2363109 and then send this contact the message “Start” via WhatsApp. If you want to unsubscribe you send the word “Stop” to the same number.

The service is being provided by a company called WhatsBroadcast which offers a newsletter and broadcast solution for WhatsApp lists.

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The service is open to both subscribed and non-subscribed readers and will provide anyone who signs up for it just one story from the publication every day.

According to the announcement from the Financial Times, this will be either a big story or a major analysis. There are also plans to possibly introduce separate broadcast lists for specific topics.

Following the New York Times’ use of WhatsApp for updates on the Pope’s visit to the USA last year, the Financial Times joins other major media companies like BBC and Vogue that are distributing content through WhatsApp. This could influence other media companies to explore the same strategy as the mobile content delivery takes centre stage.

Traditional content distribution channels are being continuously upended by changes in digital media and beyond the disruption that happened to print publications, the standard web platform delivery is also being challenged by shifting patterns that factor in social media’s rise.

This has happened with Facebook publishing and it’s now moving to Instant messaging (IM) platforms.

The Financial Times’ motives are likely to have been influenced not only by this but also by WhatsApp’s immense popularity.

In Zimbabwe, WhatsApp has become the most popular web-based service accounting for a third of all broadband traffic thanks to the use of WhatsApp bundles  – a broadband product from mobile operators that offers unlimited access to the IM service for $3 a month.

Options for news delivery via WhatsApp will likely be the next stage in content delivery as the local market continues to rely on WhatsApp for more than just chat.

Update – in an earlier version of this article, we had referred to New York Times and the Financial Times as the first major media companies to use WhatsApp for content distribution. We have since updated this to include companies like BBC, Sky Sports and Vogue that are also using this function.


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7 thoughts on “Financial Times starts delivering news through WhatsApp

  1. Is this not violating usage rules for whatsapp? Can some smart legal mind do a Whatsapp article to simply for most of us who have no legal wherewithal to know what can and what can not be done using whatsapp. Actually you could set yourself as an advisor for startups on what is legal or otherwise in the online world once you do a good free whatsapp article.

    1. I am not a “smart legal mind”, and this comment is not an attempt to be viewed as such. However here’s my 2 cents; WhatsApp is an information sharing platform, a simple vehicle or conduit for content sent by one consenting party to a receiving party which can either be an individual or a group of individuals. WhatBroadcast then comes in to facilitate the sharing of specialised content, in this instance articles from Financial Times (FT) – which are shared with FT’s full consent as a way of widening FT’s readership base. If there was any violation of rights with this arrangement, the party whose rights would most likely have been violated is FT and not WhatsApp, this is because FT owns the content being sent over WhatsApp. That is why for example, in Zimbabwe WhatsApp users and not WhatsApp (the entity) have been taken to court for using WhatsApp for defaming someone – courts recognise that WhatsApp’s role is not to control content but to simply pass bits of data from one party to the next. I hope that helps.

    2. I’m sure newspapers of the calibre of the Financial Times and New York Times would have covered their legal bases. I’m impressed such titans of ‘traditional’ media are thinking like startups

  2. I am not a “smart legal mind”, and this comment is not an attempt to be viewed as such. However here’s my 2 cents; WhatsApp is an information sharing platform, a simple vehicle or conduit for content sent by one consenting party to a receiving party which can either be an individual or a group of individuals. WhatBroadcast then comes in to facilitate the sharing of specialised content, in this instance articles from Financial Times (FT) – which are shared with FT’s full consent as a way of widening FT’s readership base. If there was any violation of rights with this arrangement, the party whose rights would most likely have been violated is FT and not WhatsApp, this is because FT owns the content being sent over WhatsApp. That is why for example, in Zimbabwe WhatsApp users and not WhatsApp (the entity) have been taken to court for using WhatsApp for defaming someone – courts recognise that WhatsApp’s role is not to control content but to simply pass bits of data from one party to the next. I hope that helps.

  3. There is a very fine line here between what’s legal and what’s illegal. Generally speaking, Whatsapp does not allow bots to send messages to people and if they don’t like you, they will block your number. We know that whatsbroadcast.com has developed a robot (sort of) for delivering content and managing subscriptions (Start & Stop).
    On the other hand, the fact that a person has added the bot number to their contacts and subscribed to the service, it means they want to receive those messages and it’s unfair for Whatsapp to deprive it’s customers of the services they want. I believe Whatsapp is working on making their service useful for businesses too, because that’s where the money is. They scraped the annual fees, and thus they should have a plan B for making money.

    In the meantime, it would be good for businesses to turn to bots for Whatsapp as it is the only solution currently available to engage customers through Whatsapp. The catch to reduce risk of your bot number from being banned is to avoid sending too many messages (spam). Always ensure you only send messages when a customer has asked for it (one way traffic will get you blocked).

    Unfortunately Telegram is not so popular in Zimbabwe but they have done so well with chat bots, I believe Facebook Messenger also has some implementation of chat bots (not sure if they are already working).

  4. When I read such stories, my heart bleeds, our main newspapers dont even have mobile apps. Smh

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