Date
11 December 2017
Many Hong Kong users of WhatsApp feel its new blue-tick feature threatens their privacy. Photo: Bloomberg, Facebook
Many Hong Kong users of WhatsApp feel its new blue-tick feature threatens their privacy. Photo: Bloomberg, Facebook

New WhatsApp feature ticks off HK users who want to lie low

WhatsApp is trumpeting the usefulness of a newly introduced feature, but the message isn’t getting through to many of the instant messaging service’s four million users in Hong Kong.

A survey by Apple Daily found that many Hong Kong users who began to be aware of the new function on Thursday disliked it and even described it as disastrous or horrible.

The new feature involves the little check marks in the right-hand corner of messages that users send out, the newspaper reported.

One grey tick means a message has been sent to WhatsApp’s server, and two check marks means it has been delivered to the recipient’s phone.

In the past, the sender would have no way of knowing if the recipient had read the message.

Now WhatsApp, like Line, Facebook Messenger and other rivals, has added a “message read” function.

The two grey ticks turn blue to indicate the message has been read. Clicking and holding on a message with two blue ticks will show the sender the time when the recipient read it.

Of the 204 adults Apple Daily surveyed by phone, 43 percent said the new function weakened protection of their privacy. Only 16 percent said it made the app more convenient to use, while 41 percent thought it was OK.

It is likely that those who are unhappy about the new feature feel the extra information it provides makes it impossible for them to tell senders — family members, romantic partners or supervisors at work — that they never saw their messages. No longer will they have that excuse for not being contacted.

Industry insiders estimate that WhatsApp, which was acquired by Facebook in February for US$19 billion, has a penetration rate in Hong Kong of 96 percent, or about four million users.

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TL/AC/FL

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