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WhatsApp, Bought by Facebook for $19 Billion, Promotes a Radical Anti-Corporate Message

By       Message David Corn     Permalink
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(image by WhatsApp/Wikimedia Commons; Facebook like: Veluben/Wikimedia Commons)
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The surprising tech news of the week is Facebook's $19 billion acquisition of WhatsApp, a fast-growing mobile-messaging startup. WhatsApp allows smartphone users to evade phone company limits and send unlimited text messages. The service is free for the first year, and a buck for each following year. Five years after its creation by Jan Koum, a Ukrainian immigrant who dropped out of college; and Brian Acton, a Stanford alum, the app has 450 million users -- most outside the United States -- and a million new users signing up each day. The eye-popping price tag -- about one-tenth the entire value of Facebook -- is the shocker that's drawn much media notice. But there's another element to the story that is astounding: Koum and Acton have published a manifesto that radically critiques the foundation of modern capitalism -- advertising -- and denounces materialism. Facebook's business model, of course, depends upon both.

When new users of WhatsApp first download the service, they are shown a page that has a link to a message explaining why WhatsApp does not accept ads. Those who click on that link get an explanation that could have been penned by the gang at Adbusters, the anti-consumerist magazine that had a hand in starting the Occupy movement. Here's the full statement from Koum:

Advertising has us chasing cars and clothes, working jobs we hate so we can buy sh*t we don't need.
-- Tyler Durden, Fight Club  

"Brian and I spent a combined 20 years at Yahoo!, working hard to keep the site working. And yes, working hard to sell ads, because that's what Yahoo! did. It gathered data and it served pages and it sold ads.

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David Corn is  Mother Jones ' Washington bureau chief. For more of his stories,  click here . He's also  on  Twitter  and  FacebookRSS  |    David is (more...)
 

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