The WhatsApp Status tab is a strange old beast. It works much the same as Stories on Facebook and Instagram but is nowhere near as popular. Users can share what they’re up to via temporary messages filled with stickers, GIFs, photos, and more, knowing that their updates will disappear after 24 hours.
The fact remains though, that nobody uses the Status tab. It is always empty. If you add to this that the Status tab will be where WhatsApp begins showing ads, you can see that the messaging app needs to get more people using the Status tab if it is going to start making back some of the money Facebook paid for it back in the day.
WhatsApp will rank your friends’ status updates and then push the ones it thinks you’ll want to see most
This is all just another example of just how much data these apps are collecting about our habits, and their efforts to use all that data to make money from us. The system works by monitoring all the status updates users interact with the most. It then uses that info to decide which status updates the user will see first. There are a lot more metrics that the feature measures, making it much more complicated than that.
Other things the feature will be keeping an eye on include contacts that the user interacts with the most. If you chat with somebody a lot, then their status updates will receive a higher score and you’ll be more likely to see updates from them. People you tend to ignore, will be pushed lower down the list.
Other factors include chats with a lot of media, including photos and videos, getting a higher score, and calls affecting the rating of a friend’s status update, too. If you call somebody a lot, then there is a good chance you’ll be more interested in what they are up to as opposed to people you’ve never spoken to before.
All of this works on your phone, so none of this information will be sent to the central WhatsApp servers for processing. Deleting WhatsApp and all its data will reset the Status tab should you reinstall it. Statuses will be shown in a chronological order until the app can gather enough data to start feeding you the statuses it thinks you want to see most.
How do you feel about WhatsApp ranking your friends? The testing is being done on iOS but it is likely the feature will come to Android, too. Many people complained when the likes of Facebook and Twitter started playing around with their timelines rather just showing updates chronologically. If WhatsApp wants to avoid annoying users like Facebook and Twitter did, it should at least offer the option to toggle the new ranking system on and off. Unfortunately, according to WABetaInfo who broke the story, there is no such plan in the pipeline.