Heed The Signal To Ditch The Green Giant?

Heed The Signal To Ditch The Green Giant?

Whether it’s the features or good marketing, we have seen WhatsApp’s popularity grow over the last eleven years. There have been numerous instant messengers in the past. And all of them have offered netizens to stay connected. But none of those has ever captured both the people and the market’s attention. WhatsApp is the only widely popular instant messaging platform that offers privacy and also allows the convenience of staying connected with friends and family.

Yet this instant messenger has always been in a strange position for all the privacy concerned netizens among us. On one hand, it is seen as the go-to messenger for privacy features. On the other hand, however, being closely associated with Facebook, it has drawn flak towards itself. The controversy with Facebook and Cambridge Analytica should be proof enough of how our data could be analytically used to construct our psychology. Being closely associated with Facebook, WhatsApp isn’t gaining much trust these days either.

Privacy or Convenience In a Digital Age?

WhatsApp, on the surface, allows end-to-end encryption. But the convenience of backing up conversations, and other materials like images, video and audio recording do not come with encryption. This half-measure towards privacy might seem like a good trade-off for most. But this can be just as dangerous. The debate between privacy and convenience has been going on for years now. Proponents of privacy might even argue that those concerned with privacy not even log on to the internet. While living in a modern world, however, it is not realistic to follow such extreme measures to preserve privacy.

But, we should also keep in mind that, right now all our personal information is available online. It is also possible to access others’ information if you look deep enough. Everything, from your eating habits to your music and the community of people you associate with, is recorded and can be tracked on the internet. At the hands of anyone nefarious, you can quite easily be put in danger. It is understandable why none of us would want our personal information out in the open. Yet the recent update to WhatsApp’s privacy policy goes beyond encryption. WhatsApp’s declaration that it might share user information with businesses has sparked a controversy with some beginning to move away from the messengers.

What Does WhatsApp’s Say About Your Data?

According to the new WhatsApp privacy policy, it has declared to share your information with other Facebook family of companies. As part of the information that’s collected, it consists of data related to a)Your interactions with others, b) Details of your phone such as – hardware type, phone number, IP address, and browser information, and c) Your information provided by the data of others’ interactions with you.

In recent news, following user uproar, WhatsApp has even postponed this update to a later date, declaring that they will always remain privacy focussed. They have even offered the option to exclude users from their information being used by Facebook. While the instant messaging platform says, they only use this information to understand your requirements and improve the services accordingly, we believe it pays to be cautious.

Alternatives?

In the wake of this recent controversy, netizens have begun moving away from WhatsApp. For those users who care more about privacy than the convenience of a feature-rich option, here’s a list of top three alternatives you can look into:

Signal Private Messenger – Whether you knew it since its inception or from the tweet of the world’s richest man, Signal remains the most privacy focussed instant messaging app in history. It brings a few security upgrades for those using WhatsApp, such as self-destructing messages and screen security. It also offers the basic functionality any of us might expect from a modern instant messenger with an added layer of encryption, such as – calls, video calls, group calls, file transfers, etc. Signal also does not store any backup on its servers and offers users the ability to, manually protect their conversations with end-to-end encryption.

Telegram Messenger – While not as widely used for regular communications, it is quite popular for its other advantages. It is the best option for those seeking a middle ground between convenience and privacy. It allows the formation of supergroups of about a hundred thousand people, and features – public channels, the ability to share files up to 1.5 GB. Telegram bots also enhance the instant messaging experience significantly.

Threema – It is a paid messenger geared towards the privacy of its users. It is limited in the matter of convenient features as it lacks voice and video calling. But it makes that up with encrypting all private data transferred through and displayed on the messenger. It is open-source and has a very transparent privacy policy, which means that your security is in safe hands while using the messenger. It also packs fingerprint-protected chats, to ensure no unauthorised person ever takes a peek into your messages.

Conclusion

WhatsApp’s recent incursion into your privacy territory may have you spooked, and we understand that. But with the pressure of staying connected and the fear of missing out, the question remains, do you drop your privacy concerns in favour of convenience and stick with the green giant? Or having been enlightened, do you sacrifice your conveniences and seek out privacy-focussed platforms instead?

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