WhatsApp (green logo, left) reassured users about privacy as it faces rival secure mobile messaging services such as Signal Photo: AFP
tech

WhatsApp stresses privacy as users flock to rivals

9 Comments
By Lionel BONAVENTURE

WhatsApp on Tuesday reassured users about privacy at the Facebook-owned messaging service as people flocked to rivals Telegram and Signal following a tweak to its terms.

There was "a lot of misinformation" about an update to terms of service regarding an option to use WhatsApp to message businesses, Facebook executive Adam Mosseri, who heads Instagram, said in a tweet.

WhatsApp's new terms sparked criticism, as users outside Europe who do not accept the new conditions before February 8 will be cut off from the messaging app.

"The policy update does not affect the privacy of your messages with friends or family in any way," Mosseri said.

The update regards how merchants using WhatsApp to chat with customers can share data with Facebook, which could use the information for targeting ads, according to the social network.

"We can't see your private messages or hear your calls, and neither can Facebook," WhatsApp said in a blog post. "We don't keep logs of who everyone is messaging or calling. We can't see your shared location and neither can Facebook."

Location data along with message contents is encrypted end-to-end, according to WhatsApp.

"We're giving businesses the option to use secure hosting services from Facebook to manage WhatsApp chats with their customers, answer questions, and send helpful information like purchase receipts," WhatsApp said in the post.

"Whether you communicate with a business by phone, email, or WhatsApp, it can see what you're saying and may use that information for its own marketing purposes, which may include advertising on Facebook."

Encrypted messaging app Telegram has seen user ranks surge on the heels of the WhatsApp service terms announcement, said its Russia-born founder Pavel Durov.

Durov, 36, said on his Telegram channel Tuesday that the app had over 500 million monthly active users in the first weeks of January and "25 million new users joined Telegram in the last 72 hours alone."

WhatsApp boasts more than two billion users.

"People no longer want to exchange their privacy for free services," Durov said without directly referring to the rival app.

Encrypted messaging app Signal has also seen a huge surge in demand, helped by a tweeted recommendation by renowned serial entrepreneur Elon Musk.

Telegram is a popular social media platform in a number of countries, particularly in the former Soviet Union and Iran, and is used both for private communications and sharing information and news.

Durov said Telegram has become a "refuge" for those seeking a private and secure communications platform and assured new users that his team "takes this responsibility very seriously."

Telegram was founded in 2013 by brothers Pavel and Nikolai Durov, who also founded Russia's social media network VKontakte.

Telegram refuses to cooperate with authorities and handover encryption keys, which resulted in its ban in several countries, including Russia.

Last year, Russia announced that it will lift its ban on the messenger app after more than two years of unsuccessful attempts to block it.

© 2021 AFP

©2021 GPlusMedia Inc.


9 Comments
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Good. People voting against big tech with their feet.

If big tech keeps insists on censorship and privacy violations they'll continue to lose large chunks of their customers.

4 ( +5 / -1 )

The problem is the oligarchs running Big Tech and their censorship of dissenters.

3 ( +4 / -1 )

...people flocked to rivals Telegram and Signal following a tweak to its terms.

Oops.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

They will try to suppress the alternatives.

I don't believe WhatsApp censor yet, but wouldn't put it past them trying at some future date.

I think these companies may have overreached, both in their interventions in broader society but also in the extent to which they mine and monetize user data and usage habits.

Plus we are seeing a lot more of and about the people who run and have become rich from these platforms.  One look at Zuckerborg and Adolf Twittler and Satya Nadella and their ilk and their products no longer seem so cool any more.

3 ( +3 / -0 )

I use 2 alternatives instead of WA which is not installed on my phone.

Signal is good though still based in US and need your phone number. However is free and this is what people wants. I use it but to make people switch it or even keep along their "irreplaceable" Whatsapp doesn't work. Excuse: My all friends and business are using it. Well...good luck.

Threema - Swiss based and cost only $2.99 one time purchase ( less than latte you buy everyday ). However for many it's a looot of money for the app. ( excuse again ). Threema runs on own servers and you don't need phone number or email to use it. It's based on ID and QR code. UI is much better then Signal or WA.

You may check this comparison:

https://threema.ch/en/blog/posts/messenger-comparison-2021

1 ( +1 / -0 )

We started using the Line app for some big meetings, 20+ people. Some friends phone us on Line.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

Instagram updated its terms of service in December and continued use is consent to access all content on your device, "as well as devices nearby", and all account information associated with your device (to include your accounts with third parties, such as your banks, investment companies, phone companies, etc.) What could go wrong?

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Facebook claiming privacy? That's a laugh.

We use nextcloud talk. Text, voice, video chat. Free Software. No concerns about privacy, since we run the servers. Clients for every platform, or use the web interface. For more privacy, use a vpn for the connection. We run a vpn too.

There are other choices for all this stuff. Don't just follow the crowd. That's how people ended up on facebook.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

If you one of the approx 50% of Americans who are conservative, big tech looks down on you and despises everything you believe and stand for. They believe you need moral guidance and re-education by them and that your views have no place in society.

I find it difficult to understand why these major tech companies are so willing to offend and lose up to half thier US customers.

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

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