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Privacy

Why are people ditching WhatsApp?

You may have heard of a sudden outcry from WhatsApp users, and a sudden upsurge of leaving the platform. Whats the big deal? Here we discuss the controversial change which is causing millions to leave.

What is WhatsApp?

WhatsApp is a instant messaging app that was released in 2009. It utilizes the Signal Protocol for message sending and was acquired by Facebook in 2014. In 2015 it became the most popular instant messenger and has over 2 billion users as of 2020. WhatsApp slowly became the primary communication method in Latin America, India, and in parts of Europe and Asia.

Why are people leaving WhatsApp?

The Facebook Subsidary updated their privacy policy in early 2021 to reserve the right to share data it collects about you with the broader Facebook network, which includes Instagram, regardless of whether you have accounts or profiles there. WhatsApp argued the change was needed to better integrate the app to the Facebook ecosystem.

WhatsApp strong arms users

The chat app notified its 2 billion users to either accept the new privacy policy or get out. It planned to enforce the new terms by deleting any account which did not accept the change by February 8th. This change is a drastic approach and a clear attempt to capture data of the large ecosystem.

Public outcry following change

Elon Musk encouraged a switch to the competitor app Signal on his Twitter feed. Turkey Tayyip Erdogan’s Presidential Media Office declared the government would drop use of WhatsApp following the change of policy. Other privacy advocates and government associations condemned the change. As a result of the public outcry a large portion of WhatsApp users began to defect to Signal. The defect caused record registrations on Signal’s platform and overwhelmed Signal’s servers to the point of service connectivity issues.

Facebook’s plan for the data

Facebook’s primary revenue source comes from serving advertisements to its users, earning nearly $21 billion in revenue in the third quarter of 2020. While WhatsApp does not serve ads to its users, Facebook can begin to improve targeted ads on other platforms with the new data collected. This change is targeted to empower businesses which advertise on Facebook’s platforms by determining what you discuss when messaging businesses directly.

Should you leave WhatsApp?

That is up to you. It is notable that the co-founder of WhatsApp Brian Acton himself ditched the company in disagreement with Facebook’s proposed monetization plans after they acquired the platform. After Acton defected, he created The Signal Foundation, and funded the Signal App. It could be argued that if the co-founder defected to create a rival product after disagreeing with Facebook’s new practices, that maybe you should too. Choosing to leave WhatsApp could show big-tech how consumers view buying platforms just to harvest data from them. Take a moment and decide if you should switch to Signal too.

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