Thoughts on WhatsApp

Disclaimer: This post is not to get you to switch out of WhatsApp, but to bring more awareness as a person who is close to Mobile Apps and technology.

Edited by: Sienna Saito

What’s the fuss about WhatsApp anyway?

WhatsApp announced earlier this month that messaging is shared with Facebook from 1st of February. They later clarified that it’s only applied for business accounts.

Are WhatsApp privacy changes going to affect me?

At least in the short term, I would say the answer is no. The initial change in WhatsApp was only going to affect business users. They have communicated that the messages in personal accounts will not be shared with Facebook.

Should I still consider an alternative if it’s not a problem in the short term?

I would say the bigger problem at the moment is that WhatsApp is a part of Facebook. Their more significant goal is to unify all their platforms under one messaging App, Messenger. Similar has already happened with Instagram.

Online privacy is not a thing any more; should I still care?

Facebook does not have a good reputation when it comes to keeping personal data secure. Have you ever noticed that you talk about new shoes in Messenger and see more targeted Ads on Instagram & Facebook on new Ads?.

Even if your messages can still be secure, Apps can still access meta-data from your device such as the device identifier, location, what you copy (pasteboard). The protection that you have around it may vary with the mobile OS that you are using. I don’t use the Facebook app on my phone because of this.

Is Signal any good?

I’ve been using Signal for messaging on iOS 14, iPhone 11 and the experience seems good to me. I still haven’t trialled this for voice or video calls. I would suggest trialling it out for your self as the experience may vary on your device and OS. It would be interesting to see how Signal will scale with the unprecedented demand they are facing. The service is experiencing an outage at the time I’m writing this post 💔.

Is Signal any more secure than WhatsApp?

Both of the Apps offer end-to-end encryption, but Signal’s code is open-source on top of it, which means more transparency and visibility on what the App does on your phone. I’m not qualified to extensively comment on security limitations.

How does Signal make a profit?

It’s registered as a non-profit, run on donations.

Could Signal be acquired by an evil corp and do bad things in the future?

I’m not qualified to answer that from a legal perspective, but as consumers, the power is in our hands to switch to a better platform when platforms no longer serve our needs.

Ron Swanson

Possibly the only way to stay private in the internets