Move out of WhatsApp, it’s time!

Categorized as Privacy, Security Tagged , , , , , , ,

Over the last few years WhatsApp usage has increased by a huge margin beating every other instant messaging app in the market. In 2019, it was the most downloaded app of the year with over 850 million global downloads. Can you imagine the amount of data that gets generated from this app from every second of its usage? Personal, professional, all kinds of conversations take place on this allegedly free platform. When WhatsApp started off initially, they had user privacy on top of their list. It all went wrong when Facebook decided to buy WhatsApp after seeing the potential user market this single app can capture. More users meant more user data; data has value because of how it’s used in online advertising, specifically targeted advertising – when advertisers make use of information about the user to show them relevant product ads they might be interested in. All you do is talk to a friend and that enables irrelevant people to know a lot about you from the data that is collected from your conversation.

What is the new inclusion in WhatsApp’s privacy policy?

This new change takes away your right to have a 100% private conversation on WhatsApp. Until now, if your data had been misused in some manner by Facebook you could at least try to file a complaint. Once you agree to these new terms, WhatsApp (Facebook) becomes bulletproof from any future allegations of user data misuse. Information about you will be freely circulated among Facebook services, third party services and advertisers – potentially making your profile a public property. Europe’s strict privacy laws has prevented Facebook from implementing these new terms on their land. For the rest of the world, users have not been given a choice, to use the service it is compulsory to accept these new terms.

What choice do you have?

You must have surely heard of Signal Messenger by now. Signal has been popular among privacy enthusiasts and government officials in the past couple years but the general public is still not all clear about it. Signal Messenger is a product of Signal Foundation, a 501c3 non-profit and runs solely on donations from its users all around the world. By registering as a non-profit (non-profits cannot be sold), Signal Foundation has taken steps to not repeat the mistakes that WhatsApp made all those years ago by selling to the big shark named Facebook. To top that, Signal’s entire source code is available publicly, enabling security experts from all around the world to verify the encryption. If this is not transparency, I don’t know what is. This is your cue to make the shift to Signal and enjoy everything that WhatsApp was providing but with better security and assurance that your data won’t be shared with anybody.

Need more convincing?

Brian Acton (co founder of WhatsApp) left Facebook and put his 50$ million into Signal to help develop a transparent open-source communication platform with uncompromising data protection (source). Signal is everything that WhatsApp was meant to be, but evil Zuckerberg didn’t let it happen. Signal follows something known as Sealed Sender which in layman terms means that the service that is responsible for delivering messages won’t ever know where the message is originating from. Data retention on the Signal servers is bare minimum and that won’t ever change. By design, Signal does not store a record of your contacts, social graph, conversation list, location, user avatar, user profile name, group memberships, group titles, or group avatars. They can optionally store a backup of your contact list if you want them to. All of this has been clearly laid out in this simple privacy policy.

Also read: The Inside Story of How Signal Became the Private Messaging App for an Age of Fear and Distrust


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