Over the past few weeks, a privacy debate has started ravaging over WhatsApp. The point of contention is the new set of terms that WhatsApp has floated to all its users. They pushed it as a notification to users, with new terms of privacy policies. It is understood that beginning February 8th, WhatsApp will be sharing data with their parent company, Facebook.
Now, this is a seismic shift for WhatsApp. The app was initially started and conceived as a communication tool that stands for open, free, and private communication. Over time, WhatsApp also got end-to-end encryption. Further, Facebook acquired it. The Facebook group, spearheaded by Mark Zuckerberg, has always held WhatsApp to be the beacon of privacy. Additionally, claiming that communications over WhatsApp will always be private and will always fight for the privacy and fair communication rights of people. However, the change in these policies has raised many questions about the app itself. Let us look into it.
Why is Facebook collecting data?
The new terms of service have however created quite a bit of stir across all sectors of the industry. Analysts think that selling user data to Facebook or selling certain parts of user data such as name, status, and other sorts of public information is not the best idea. It is even not in the best interests of individuals. WhatsApp, for instance, is a private communication app where people expect everything about themselves to remain private.
The point of strife is not whether there is end-to-end encryption. Instead, it is in data sharing and the kind of inner web of services that Facebook is creating. It is using data of all available forms from users to create a digital map of you – the user. The new services reflect just that. It says that certain parts of your data, neither messages nor your conversations. Several other parts of it that are vital and identifiable will be shared with Facebook.
Further, Facebook can then sell the data to advertisers to maximize their words. Stated otherwise, Facebook is trying to earn money from WhatsApp. While analysts have often stated that a company can not be blamed for trying to earn money off its service. Secondly, the fact that WhatsApp is free, and users can not have a right to say that a certain service must always remain free. This move is a derogatory way to go forward in the monetization strategy. This might not work well in terms of how people perceived WhatsApp.
So should users worry? The high-risk users of WhatsApp like people who communicate very sensitive information should worry. With the law that we are looking at here, as soon as WhatsApp decides to intercept some of your messages, there is a security setting that you can turn on. Display Security Notification it is. With this turned on, your WhatsApp messaging client will tell you if somebody has intercepted your communication. Although, it will only inform you afterward. Moreover, it will not give you the option not to transmit your messages.
Apps like Telegram and Signal have come up to the front. Edward Snowden endorsed, Signal, particularly, is emerging as a secure communication tool. It has end-to-end encryption and a holistic approach to privacy that many privacy-centric users would find interesting. There are no ads on Signal. Moreover, data sharing is not a problem on this conversational app so far. There is a fair bit of migration happening from WhatsApp to Telegram and Signal in recent times.
The problem of migrating out of WhatsApp
Businesses and personalities use the App to stay in touch with their customers or their fan followers. Many mass services, like the travel industry and others, use WhatsApp as a medium to reach their potential consumers. On this note, will you find it easy to migrate away from WhatsApp? Explicitly, WhatsApp has managed to acquire over two billion users worldwide. This is twenty-five percent of the total population of the world. Now that is a massive chunk of users.
It might not be easy for people to migrate instantaneously from WhatsApp to other alternatives. Even though privacy is of utmost importance for everyone. Know that the issue of privacy is not for us simply as a matter of business practice. It is rather fundamental to human dignity.
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