WhatsApp is one of the most if not the most popular messaging platforms in the world. So to let it go could be a difficult choice for some. As it was for me. You see… in marketing, a need is to be created in order to make a sale. And we all need to communicate with each other. And everybody has WhatsApp, no body has the other one! So I need to keep my WhatsApp…!
There! They have control over you now. If you are thinking this about your application, then you have been controlled. You are addicted and you cannot let it go! These statements and others like “but how will others find me? How will I video call? What about my business! I am only using it to keep in touch. Those groups! I need those groups… etc etc.”
Yes yes, I have the same feelings and I have heard it from others too as I told people that I will not be accepting the new terms of the WhatsApp update with a deadline of 8th Deb 2021.
And no, I have never used messenger either for that very reason. Privacy.
Facebook has demolished the initial privacy advantage that WhatsApp had when it became so popular. And Facebook recognised that, paying $19 billion dollars to acquire it in 2014 (that’s $19,000,000,000.00… just in case).
But since… it has slowly destroyed the privacy and now… it has completely annihilated it with the most recent update. If you do not accept the update, you will not be able to access the app. Big deal. Do not accept.
Here is why:
Sharing your data with Facebook including
- Your phone number.
- Transaction data.
- How you interact with others.
- Mobile phone device information.
- Your IP address.
- Your connections contact details.
- Your precise or general locations – using GPS or IP or other methods.
- Time, frequency, and duration of your activities!
- Diagnostic, crash, website, and performance logs and reports.
- Hardware model of your mobile phone devise or other digital device, operating system information, battery level, signal strength, app version, browser information, mobile network, connection information (including phone number, mobile operator or ISP), language and time zone, IP address, device operations information, and identifiers.
- They will even receive information about you from other users.
- You will be sharing your address book. On a regular basis.
- Your groups and broadcast lists will be shared.
- Other users may provide your phone number, name, and other information (like information from their mobile address book) just as you may provide theirs.
That last point is rather important and deserves to be repeated, in bold “Other users may provide your phone number, name, and other information (like information from their mobile address book) just as you may provide theirs.” The terms are an interesting read indeed!
Even Elon Musk tweeted to use an alternative!
WhatsApp is asking you to give them permission to know about all your activities.
Look at the difference, for example, between the following screenshots:
The image above is one for Signal, which shows that it will not even link your mobile phone number when registering to you.
The one below, however, is for WhatsApp!!
Privacy has been so important recently that as a pharmacist, we cannot call out the name of the customer out loud in case we breach their privacy, medicines have to be in a non transparent bag when they take the medicines from the counter to the cashier, and we can =not give out any information at all unless we have explicit permission! Yet, here we are nilly willy giving out permission at the click of a button to a faceless massive corporate organisation.
How to delete the application?
Simply deleting the application is not enough to remove the data… you need to use the in-app delete my account button to remove the data they have about you – after some time. The terms state “Be mindful that if you only delete WhatsApp from your device without using our in-app delete my account feature, your information will be stored with us for a longer period. Please remember that when you delete your account, it does not affect your information related to the groups you created or the information other users have relating to you, such as their copy of the messages you sent them.”
Be sure to go to the three dots menu >settings > account > Delete my account.
Also – remember to save anything you need, contacts, messages, etc, and share this article with your friends, letting them know which application you prefer. Add your comment below if you have anything to add.
So what is the alternative?
There are plenty, here are two of my favourites:
Telegram: You can read about what https://telegram.org/Telegram thinks regarding privacy, here and it is much more easy on the eye to read. Unlike WhatsApp, if you delete your account everything will get flushed! The best advantage I have seen with Telegram is that it does not share your mobile number with the other contact if you are not already on their list… and even if you are in a group… you cannot see the other users. Telegram will introduce monetisation in 2021 but, it says, “While Telegram will introduce monetization in 2021 to pay for the infrastructure and developer salaries, making profits will never be an end-goal for us.”
Signal: Being new to signal I won’t comment much, but fair to say it was an impressive first impression. It does not monetise your information so has no incentive to share or sell your data.
It was very impressive to be able to send a Signal message to someone who did not have the application and they would receive it as an SMS!
A reader has also pointed out (thanks to the reader) that Signal has in fact been subpoenaed in the passed by a government authority in Virginia USA to provide information about two Signal users for a federal grand jury investigation… and all they were actually able to give, because that is all the had… was…:
It is time to make the switch. Stop giving giant tech companies the permission to make money off you, while you sell yourself cheap fearing “disconnection” when there are so many alternatives out there to stay connected.
EDIT: Telegram does not have end-to-end encryption by default unless you turn on secret chat, however it still has much better privacy settings than WhatsApp. Signal is only encrypted and nothing is kept on its servers. Signal is a clear winner here, but you will be giving up some features such as not being able to sync your chat history data to a new device.
The following is a comment by a reader:
Basically, WhatsApp encourages users to backup their data to Google Drive or Apple iCloud. Meanwhile, WhatsApp retains the decryption key for your backups (instead of giving you control of it). With Google/Apple storing your backups and WhatsApp storing your backup decryption key, this opens up all your messages to government data requests, even if you yourself do not have ‘cloud backups’ enabled. (If your contacts store their backups in Google/Apple datacenters, then it does not matter if you choose otherwise, because the message data is still available through their backups.)
The following comparison was sent by a reader:
In comparing telegram to signal:
– Signal Foundation is an American non-profit organization. Telegram Group Inc is a British company, and its subsidiary Telegram FZ-LLC (which publishes the Telegram application in the Apple and Google application stores) appears to be an American company. Its developers are based in the UAE (a US ally).
– Unlike Signal (or even WhatsApp), Telegram has access to your messages and media by default. Therefore, they may pass this data along to governments if pressured to do so.
– Signal user data consists of registration time and last connection date. Therefore, this is the only information they can provide to the US government if subpoenaed. <https://signal.org/bigbrother/>
– Unlike Signal, Telegram has no support for end-to-end encrypted groups, so all groups are visible to Telegram. As of January 2021, Telegram has not even announced plans for end-to-end encrypted groups.
– Telegram secret chats only work on mobile and there is no way to retain them when you switch devices. Signal has options for mobile, desktop, and backup/restore or data transfer to new devices.
– As of January 2021, Signal is the #1 top download on both Apple and Google application stores, while Telegram is #2. So the Signal user base is growing faster than Telegram.
– Telegram has several useful features for *public* communication like channels. Signal seems more appropriate for all private conversations and groups, if privacy is at all a concern.