News broke earlier this week alleging that Jeff Bezos’s phone had been hacked, via a malware-laden video file sent to him by Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman of Saudi Arabia. The video was sent over the popular messaging service WhatsApp. The implications of the supposed hack, between two extremely wealthy and powerful figures on the world stage, are varied and concerning.
But what I can’t stop thinking about is that Jeff Bezos is a bad texter.
Okay, maybe he is not the world’s worst texter, but based on the very slight evidence included in a forensic report obtained by Vice, I have to believe he’s not great at it. According to the report, Bezos met MBS in April 2018 at a dinner, and they exchanged numbers, like this.
The number exchange is a delicate dance that can be tough to navigate, and different people have different approaches. Some people hand their phone over to the other person; some people ask for the number. Generally, once Person A gets Person B’s number, Person A will call or send a text, creating a record of correspondence and their phone number in Person B’s phone. Thus the transaction is complete.
Upon receiving MBS’s number, Bezos sent this message: “Hello MBS.” Useless! This is a completely useless text message for Person A to send Person B. MBS knows that his name is MBS, he doesn’t need someone else texting him his own name. (He also doesn’t need to sign his texts but whatever).
What Bezos should’ve done is sent his own name. Maybe in a fun text like, “Hey! It’s Jeff Bezos.” Or even funnier: “Hey, it’s Jeff! (Bezos) (from Amazon)🤪”
In a totally nonscientific poll that I tweeted out shortly before writing this blog post, I solicited samples of what types of messages people send during the number exchange. Nearly every respondent said that they text their own name, to avoid any confusion. (One freak said, “i don’t text we just put our numbers in both phones” and one absolute nutter said they send the recipient a “picture of themselves standing in front of me.”)
Through this method — texting one’s own name — MBS would still know who the number belongs to, even if he didn’t immediately save Bezos’s contact info. As you can see in exchange above, MBS didn’t respond until the following morning. By not sending his own name, Bezos ran the risk of MBS forgetting who had texted him. Which maybe would’ve worked out in his favor, given … you know … the hacking stuff.