So there has been a lot of buzz about Whatsapp now when they are having users to consent to new Privacy terms. Is it taking every information imaginable from you, to Facebook?
So Whatsapp has been owned by Facebook since February, 2014. Pretty long time already. Now recently, with a new consent request of WhatsApp privacy rules, there’s been some headlines on how Facebook will take more and more information from the user, selling it to advertisers, like they do in Facebook. So will this be the end of privacy for everybody?
I’m not going into the whole discussion of “end of privacy”, but should one be afraid of the new privacy request and it will take everything from the users within WhatsApp? Well no.
I’ve been using Whatsapp for a looong time. This due to the reassurance, that messages are end-to-end encrypted. It says so in the start of every discussion: “Messages and calls are end-to-end encrypted. No one outside of this chat, not even WhatsApp, can read or listen to them.”
This “end-to-end” function will continue even with the new privacy rules. So the new privacy rules does not mean that anyone will see the information within the chat itself.
What the new rules does includes, is that WhatsApp can send adverts of Facebook owned services. WhatsApp does also get the right to use gathered information, for it to improve it’s services, as well as tailor content- and advertisement.
But one should note, that these changes does not affect countries in EU, and UK. So for instance, a user in Finland, has no changes in the use of the app. A user in USA, can see some changes. What I, and a colleague suspect is, that WhatsApp is preparing, for a slow change for the same information gathering and usage as in Facebook. And the same things now happening in WhatsApp for other parts of the world, will come to Europe and therefore Finland too, eventually!
But the most important part in all of this is that the information for us in Europe is not changing, what comes to the end-to-end encryption. That is, and for now still remains.
The privacy rule changes has still having many therefore starting to look for alternatives, and a couple surfacing are Telegram, and Signal.
These two are similar, and different. I found a comparison picture on Twitter of functionality, which I thought was pretty good.
What diverted me to Signal are the pure amount of green checkmarks. As well as the knowledge, I can backup everything locally. I haven’t tried it, but to my understanding, this would be the solution for people who might switch from AndroiOS to iOS. Meaning, if you think you might some day change from an android phone, to an iPhone, you can thru this local backup can easily transfer all chats back and forth. A common knowledge is that WhatsApp messages, can be stored in a backup file from an android phone only to Google Drive. When you on an iPhone, can backup the chats only in iCloud. But there seems to be no easy and good way to transfer these backup files at the moment. This meaning that in the year of 2021, you loose all chats when switching phone operating system.
Signal seems to have gained very noticeably traction, as it’s at the moment of writing this blog post is the “Top free apps” -list leader. And it’s not only in Finland. Germany, France, Austria and others. Check out the tweets by Signal on January 9th.
So is Signal going to be the new WhatsApp. Maybe, maybe not. I personally predict that there is going to be more different communication apps on everybody’s phones. As if there was not plenty enough. Listing the ones on my phone before this “privacy rule” debacle I had:
- Phone calls
- WhatsApp chat/call
- Facebook Messanger/calls
- Twitter DM
- Instagram messages
- Google hangouts/chat
- Google Meet
- LinkedIn chat
And maybe some other I don’t remember at the moment. Now then I have Signal and Telegram as well.
What Signal lacks, is a browser based webpage for messaging, so that you can use any computer easily and fast for chatting, but they do have a desktop client, one can install on their computers. There is for Windows, Macs and Linux.
I will personally primarily use Signal, and encourage everybody else to use that too. The little I used it so far, it looks good, and have had no issues to date for me.
Sources for this post:
- Mikrobitti – WhatsApp muutti käyttöehtojaan: tätä se tarkoittaa suomalaiselle (in finnish)
- Iltalehti – Whatsappin uudet ehdot saivat ihmiset vaihtamaan palvelua – tällainen on Signal (in finnish)
- Independent.co.uk – Whatsapp new privacy terms: What do new rules really mean for you? (in english)
- The Verge – Signal sees surge in new signups after boost from Elon Musk and WhatsApp controversy. (in english)