New policy: my way or the highway
WhatsApp is one of the Facebook Companies. In 2014, the application successfully executed its acquisition with Facebook for $22 billion. Since then, it’s been held as a widely used messaging service.
The app works on an end-to-end encrypted system, which is one of the key points of its enviable success. As of 2020, the platform holds a massive 2.7 billion users count and projects for 2.87 billion users in the running year. A huge number of the users come from India.
On Tuesday, January 5, WhatsApp came up with its new privacy update by sending notifications to the users. In this new statement, the tech-giant mentioned that it will be sharing all Whatsapp users’ information with its parent company, Facebook.
It’s obvious that the app has shared certain data with Facebook since 2016, although there was a scope for the users to opt-out of this. But the latest policy will not allow opt out. That’s where the problem lies.
WhatsApp has clearly stated that the users either have to accept what is already fixed or they have to stop using the app. This made a lot of the users upset and that is understandable. But there has been some misinformation spread out too.
Some users started to think that this new update might in fact be a security breach for them, allowing their personal message content to be shared with third parties, but the truth may differ. We will discuss this in the next part of the article.
Do you need to be concerned?
Realistically, it’s not like social-media conglomerates do not collect our data for business purposes every day without our permission. It’s been an open secret how we are exposed to them, and we do not have a choice. If you have watched Netflix’s The Social Dilemma, you get the point; we are being watched all the time.
But we can’t say that for certain too. Very very few know the ultimate truth or the inside story of those conglomerates. They are powerful, wealthy, out of our reach. We have to go with them, whatever it costs.
The data that are going to be shared with Facebook mostly are account information such as phone number, transaction data (the app doesn’t have the payment service available in every region), service-related information, business information, mobile device information, etc.
Now, some of the users have been thinking that WhatsApp may share their personal contents like messages with Facebook while the truth is, the app is an end-to-end encrypted service which means, none but the sender and the receiver can actually read the messages.
Instead of sharing personal messages, the app is going to share business messages that are “different than messaging with your family or friends” with Facebook for marketing purposes.
So, if you are using WhatsApp for just only reaching out to your friends and families, you need not be worried. Still, if you don’t feel the overall “feel” to be safe and comfortable any longer, you have plenty of options available to you.
What are the options at hand?
At first, it may seem impossible to leave WhatsApp suddenly because we all have our friends and families mostly on this app. But there are other growing services that may ensure your demands on privacy. The alternatives currently trending are Signal and Telegram.
These two might not have enough resources (user base) to compete with WhatsApp for now, but they are becoming more popular every day. Signal is an end-to-end encrypted messaging service that has about 20 million monthly active users globally.
Despite being downloaded at a considerable rate after the buzz, Signal might not replace WhatsApp, says Brian Acton. “I have no desire to do all the things that WhatsApp does,” Acton said. He is the co-founder of both of the apps. He left WhatsApp in 2017 after selling it to Facebook and later co-founded Signal with Moxie Marlinspike in 2018.
The other major secure messaging app is Telegram, which is much more popular for its apparently easy service of sharing big files, up to two gigabytes. Some sources say it has end-to-end encrypted service only for calls, but the app claims to have encrypted every chat since launch. Dubai-based Telegram was founded by Russian entrepreneur Pavel Durov in 2013.
Surge over Signal
On January 7, Tesla CEO Elon Musk tweeted “Use Signal“ to his more than 42 million followers. Later, Edward Snowden also talked about him relying on the app. These personal recommendations have fueled the recent surge of download of the Signal app. The app had seen more than 7.5 million downloads in the last week and the verification codes took much time than usual to be sent to the new users due to the unprecedented pressure on the server.
Telegram, all in one
Telegram was not lagging behind in this race. It acquired 500 million active users, while 25 million of them joined in the last week. The founder Pavel Durov mocked Facebook, in a message shared in Durov’s Channel, saying the social media giant has an entire department to figure out the reasons behind the popularity of Telegram.
Telegram has plenty of channels that are dedicated to sharing movies, videos, web-series, memes, and whatnot. You can easily access those contents besides communicating with your friends and families.
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