So, let’s break down what happened, why it happened, and how public backlash has pushed WhatsApp and Facebook into a corner. The new WhatsApp terms and conditions have made people more conscious about their privacy as much as it good for the common user to understand how they can be manipulated, the parent company of WhatsApp is facing grave consequences of the latest stunt.
WhatsApp became a household name even before it was bought by Facebook. Consumers around the globe started pouring trust into the security, privacy, and reliability of WhatsApp, the application became such a huge success that Mark Zuckerberg purchased this internet-based messaging platform in 2014 from its creators for a staggering 19.6 billion dollars. This meant at that time, Facebook, Inc. paid $40+ for a single WhatsApp user.
Things were going well, Facebook started to add features like status, video calling, video conference calls, etc. The user base increased to 2.59 billion users in 2019 and 70 percent of these users were active daily on the platform.
WhatsApp always seemed to be trustworthy until things started to become fishy when Brian Acton (WhatsApp co-founder) told the public to delete Facebook. Acton separated himself from WhatsApp and Facebook in 2018 and started his foundation and funded a start-up that could replicate WhatsApp but more secure. He invested around $50 million in Signal Foundation in order to develop Signal messenger a more privacy-centric messaging app.
The pop-up also warned the users to accept the terms and conditions before the 8th of February otherwise they won’t be able to use the services offered by the messaging app. That’s what made people sceptical and social media platforms started to flood with the malpractices of WhatsApp in gouging the user data and share it across multiple platforms owned by Facebook.
So, there is a confusion that Facebook will read all of your private communications, messages, listen to calls you made or voice notes you send but that’s wrong. WhatsApp is still end-to-end encrypted (end to end encryption is detailed in this article). So, your private messages are secure, no third person or Facebook cannot read your messages.
Advertisers pay Facebook to pump targeted ads to these people and hence helping users to gain ascend in conversions. This data that is extracted by Facebook from the users of Instagram, Instagram messenger, Facebook, and Facebook messenger becomes an asset for the business model of Facebook. Facebook now wants to capitalize on the user data from WhatsApp because 3 billion users use WhatsApp. One must understand the following words:
‘If you are getting something for free then you are the product’.
So, except for your messages, here’s the list of data that Facebook will extract from WhatsApp.
Before that, WhatsApp stood as a separate entity and custodian of user privacy, but not anymore.
The revised WhatsApp privacy policies are essential to accept before February otherwise the account will be deleted. Facebook will use the received information of the user for the improvement and customization of their marketing services and offerings. User’s data and conversations of WhatsApp will be harvested by Facebook to use for advertisements.
WhatsApp added the feature that allowed people to communicate with their businesses. Now, these businesses can be hosted by Facebook, and conversations will be shared or managed by Facebook.
End to end encryption is a privacy content that is offered I=in most of the communicational apps whether it is WhatsApp or any other app. End to end encryption turns the user’s data into something unreadable. In simple words, we can say that the messages that are exchanged between two devices can only be decrypted by the receiving end or sender’s device. And in between the travel from sender to receiver the data will remain encrypted.
End to end encryption made the transformation of data secure. But the process of encryption and decryption allows the server to see content, as encryption in transit creates an intermediate link. So, it depends on the host on how they will use the data being transformed or will keep the privacy of the user. The advantage of end-to-end encryption is that the message will only be readable by the receiver and no other party is able to see the message content nor change it.
Signal is one of the very popular chatting apps with enhanced privacy policies. A Signal messenger is a cross-platform for encrypted messages. Signal allows encrypted and secures text communication and video/voice calls. Signal was developed by Brian Acton, co-founder of WhatsApp back in February 2018.
We are so grateful for the outpouring of support from everyone who is contributing to Signal's ongoing operation and development. We're a 501c3 nonprofit and we couldn't do this without you.
If you are on the fence about donating, you can give in here:https://t.co/iLLStll3Mi
— Signal (@signalapp) January 14, 2021
Telegram is also a free instant messaging software that provides high end to end encrypted messaging, sharing, and calling features. In Telegram, user can self-destruct their conversations from both devices from which the messages are sent or received.
— Telegram Messenger (@telegram) January 16, 2021
On Telegram, users can use more than one phone number for chatting purposes without the worries of the number or information being leaked. Chats on telegram are encrypted but are stored on the Telegram’s server which means the user can access their messages from different devices but that also raises privacy concerns. For that Telegram also provides the secret chat feature, the messages are not stored on the telegrams server and the only user can access them with a specific device.
Telegram also allows the users to use bots to perform different functions whether it’s in chat or other purposes.
Skype is best known for video calling but they recently updated their interface that allows the users to share data and images, exchange messages, and make video and voice calls. Skype can be used on both smartphones and desktops. The only disadvantage of using skype is that there are a lot of spam messages that can be received.
WeChat is a Chinese messaging app whose interface is just like WhatsApp but WeChat also allows the users to make in-app transactions and bills payments. Users can send receive messages and share information with each other. The downside of this platform is it is not secure and your data will go to Chinese servers.
KaKao talk also allows users to communicate with each other through messages and calls. Users need to create their accounts using the phone number and after registration, users can communicate with as many contacts as they want. KaKao talk allows the user to share up to 100 MB of data. Users can also live stream using their KaKao talk app. Tough KaKao is immensely popular with the Koreans but the app is not secured with end to end encryption.
— WhatsApp (@WhatsApp) January 12, 2021
The Globolstaff team advises using alternatives like Signal and Telegram for more secure personal communications rather than using WhatsApp if you are conscious about your data.