WhatsApp’s changes to privacy terms have caused an exodus of users to rivals Telegram and Signal.
WhatsApp, a Facebook-owned messaging service with more than two billion users, recently announced controversial changes to its privacy terms, sparking a massive exodus of users to competing platforms, especially Telegram and Signal. .
Users outside of Europe who do not agree to the new terms by February 8 will be excluded from the messaging app.
WhatsApp says the changes will help it integrate better with Facebook, but tech experts and privacy advocates have raised concerns about data security.
Here are four things to know about the problem:
What does WhatsApp’s new privacy look like?
Under the new terms, WhatsApp reserves the right to share user data, including location and phone number, with its parent company Facebook Inc and other apps owned by the social media giant – Instagram and Messenger. Data sharing was optional until now, but after February 8 it will become mandatory. Tech experts say the move is aimed at monetizing WhatsApp.
Why does this cause user leakage?
Many users are wary of this decision because Facebook has a bad record when it comes to handling user data.
Some privacy activists have called on WhatsApp users on Twitter to switch to apps like Signal and Telegram, questioning the “Accept our data or go” decision.
Pavel Durov, the founder of Telegram, born in Russia, said: “People no longer want to trade their privacy for free services.”
What other competing applications are benefiting?
Over 100,000 users have installed Signal in Apple and Google’s app stores in the past two days, while Telegram has seen nearly 2.2 million downloads, according to data analytics company Sensor Tower .
New WhatsApp installs fell 11% in the first seven days of 2021 from the previous week, but that still represented around 10.5 million downloads globally, Sensor Tower said.
Telegram and Signal are encrypted messaging apps, which ensures better privacy. They do not allow third parties or the platform itself to see the content of the messages.
What is WhatsApp doing about it?
The company tried to reassure users by saying in a blog post that WhatsApp can’t see their private messages or hear their calls, and neither can Facebook.
“We don’t keep logs of who everyone is messaging or calling. We can’t see your shared location and neither can Facebook, ”he added.
Location data as well as message content is end-to-end encrypted, according to WhatsApp.
But other metadata like call records, location, financial info etc. can be shared if you are using WhatsApp.
“We are offering businesses the ability to use Facebook’s secure hosting services to manage WhatsApp chats with their customers, answer questions, and send useful information such as purchase receipts,” WhatsApp said in the post. .
“Whether you communicate with a business by phone, email, or WhatsApp, they can see what you are saying and can use that information for their own marketing purposes, which may include advertising on Facebook.”