What happens when people don’t trust your brand? Welcome the “Sincerity” trend!

by | Jan 15, 2021 | Business, Media Industry, Trends

  • Whatsapp tries to contain fallout after privacy policy update.
  • Downloads of Signal and Telegram skyrocket.
  • Tesla CEO Elon Musk tweets “Use Signal”.
  • A breakdown in “TRUST”.

WhatsApp has updated its privacy policy and terms of use, forcing users to share info with Facebook or stop using the app, igniting a perfect storm of paranoia, misinformation and conspiracy theories. As a result, Whatsapp executives had to spring into action to clear up a lot of misunderstanding globally.

The message coming through loudly is that the update has nothing to do with consumer chats or profile data, but rather that the change is designed to outline how businesses who use WhatsApp for customer service may store logs of its chats on Facebook servers.

Regardless, the backlash was swift and impactful with users escaping to Signal and Telegram in their 1000s. Within days Signal became one the most downloaded apps, barely able to contain new sign-ups. Telegram, right on Signal’s heels had 25 million sign-ups in the last 72 hours. Fanning the flames, Tesla CEO Elon Musk tweeted to his 42 million fans “USE SIGNAL”.

In an attempt to calm the panic, WhatsApp executive Adam Mosseri pleaded: “The policy update does NOT affect the privacy of your messages with friends or family in any way. The changes are related to messaging a business on WhatsApp.” And still, Whatsapp continued to hemorrhage users.

This controversy is nothing new to parent company Facebook who has years of dubious privacy pledges and increasingly complex terms of service agreements written in complicated lawyer speak, and now that same mistrust has come to roost on Whatsapp’s doorstep. So what happens when consumers can no longer trust your service and your brand messaging? For Facebook and WhatsApp, it’s a long intensive therapy of transparent communication and trust-building, if they want to get those once loyal users back. In this current light, brand managers and brand architects need to verify the trustworthiness of both their brands and their messaging and crisis proof their sincerity. Whatsapp could sustain a dip in stock options, but could your brand survive a breakdown in trust?

C.S.A.’s monthly cultural portal, The WIRE connects the dots of culture. With concise stories, many with video content, take a premium dive into the world of African entertainment & cultural fluidity. It’s one thing to be hip to what’s happening but it is another to know why.

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