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Dear BBC, your WhatsApp election coverage idea is not scalable

BBC has started pushing out audio bulletins and other updates related to Indian elections via WhatsApp, WeChat and BBM this week. To get these updates, one can send a message ‘join’ via WhatsApp to +919650801273. On WeChat, you can join by searching for the ID ‘BBCNewsIndia’ and on BBM by searching for ‘BBC Hausa’ from the ‘Channels’ tab. Alternatively, you can use BBM PIN: C00334DDD. Just posted first audio news bulletin in Hindi via BBC News India WhatsApp. If you want to join, send 'join' via WhatsApp: +919650801273 — Trushar Barot (@Trushar) April 8, 2014 With this move, BBC is trying to get users where they are most active and messaging clients are way up in that list. WhatsApp are reportedly on par with Facebook in terms of monthly and daily active users as a percentage of total install base. WhatsApp has 40-45 million active users in India, as opposed to Twitter which according to a report had 33 million active users in May last year. Facebook recently crossed 100 million active users in India, but messages posted on Facebook pages don't always reach users due to the way Facebook algorithm works. Why this idea is not scalable Since WhatsApp does not have any API it looks like the messages are sent manually to everyone who has signed up for the service from the BBC account. This means you might have to wait a long time after sending the initial 'join' request to get a response. I wonder how the person handling the account will manage this account…

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