Why it’s time for all of us to abandon Whatsapp

US, WASHINGTON (ORDO NEWS) — Whatsapp is the most popular messenger in Germany. Through it, Facebook collects a lot of users’ personal data. But there have long been alternatives that protect the privacy sphere. It’s time to give up Whatsapp.

Sasha switched to Signal. Katrin switched to Signal. Matthias switched to Signal. Push notifications on my smartphone have become pretty monotonous in recent days. But still, I rejoice in each of them. Because finally some kind of movement has begun, which until recently I thought was impossible: more and more people are looking for an alternative to Whatsapp.

Whatsapp, which is actively used by over 2 billion people, is the most popular messenger in the western world. For a long time this network has covered all corners of our society. Here bachelor parties are planned and parental committees meet, here they inform friends about their whereabouts and talk on the phone with grandparents. The larger the network becomes, the more difficult it is to do without it.

In Whatsapp, you are a product

Two things have made Whatsapp so incredibly popular: it has new features all the time, but you don’t have to pay for anything. This is all the more surprising when you consider that seven years ago Mark Zuckerberg laid out a whopping $ 19 billion for the application!

Many people never asked themselves how he actually intended to compensate himself for these costs. They don’t know that in Silicon Valley, and even more so in Palo Alto, at the headquarters of Facebook, there is a principle: if you are offered something for free, then the product is you. Services in exchange for your personal data – this is an unspoken agreement on the network.

The other day, a huge number of people immediately realized this when, deciding to view the latest messages on their smartphones, they suddenly saw a message in full screen: “Whatsapp is updating the terms of service and privacy policy.” Even without reading the message to the end, one could guess that it does not bode well for users.

Facebook collects personal data on a gigantic scale

Parent concern Facebook keeps repeating that nothing will change for domestic users of the Whatsapp app. And that all messages are protected by end-to-end encryption, that is, they cannot be read by unauthorized persons.

Both are true.

But Facebook is silent about the fact that the concern has access to a huge amount of personal data even without the latest updates. He can find out with whom and at what time of day you are exchanging messages or what gadget you are using. Each individual piece of information may be harmless, but the sum of them is a complete portrait of the user with all his preferences and mental characteristics. Because so-called metadata can tell you much more about you than direct information.

They, for example, reveal relationships between people. If you write to someone at three in the morning, then, most likely, you have a strong bond with that person. With the help of your whereabouts, you can even establish that you are having an affair with someone without reading a word about it. Even from the analysis of the address book on the phone, Facebook can systematically obtain information about who we are friends with.

Signal instead of Telegram

And so users are storming the servers of Whatsapp competitors now. Threema, Telegram, Signal – all of them are now celebrating a record increase in the number of users. Probably Telegram benefited the most from the Whatsapp exodus. Recently, the messenger passed the mark of 500 million users. And this despite the fact that this application is not so good, unless, of course, you are looking for pirated copies (not allowed) or conspiracy theories about the coronavirus (not recommended).

Why Telegram has a reputation for being a reliable alternative to Whatsapp is not clear to me. Recently, Jürgen Schmidt, security expert at the Heise portal, called this app a “nightmare” when it comes to privacy. Group chats are not encrypted, and the entered texts, apparently, even before being sent, are sent to the messenger’s servers.

At the same time, it has a free alternative that offers all the basic functions of the messenger and is highly appreciated by the defenders of personal data. This is Signal. Behind the application is not an Internet giant trying to use the data obtained to optimize advertising for clients, but a public benefit fund. It is funded by Brian Acton, who once developed Whatsapp and later sold it to Facebook, which he still deeply regrets.

The most famous supporter of the Signal app is Edward Snowden, who published information about the gigantic spy program of the American intelligence services several years ago and has since been considered a state criminal in the United States. When asked why he prefers the Signal messenger, he briefly replies that he uses this application every day and is still alive. The best advertising, perhaps, you can not imagine.

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