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WhatsApp Greetings 2021 | Accept new privacy policy or leave platform by Feb 8

Whatsapp, a big name in the social media business with around 2 billion monthly active users has made people raise eyebrows after unveiling new privacy policy. The updated privacy policy will come into force on February 8 and those resisting to accept will no longer be able to access chats.Ever since people started receiving pop-up alerts to accept new privacy terms and conditions, WhatsApp is facing severe backlash. Several cyber experts have already been raising concerns and suggesting alternatives to all users.

Many Silicon Valley entrepreneurs including Tesla CEO Elon Musk suggested users to quit WhatsApp and join Signal, a messaging service backed by WhatsApp co-founder Brian Acton and run by not-for-profit organisation.

Stirring a huge debate after putting users' interest at stake, WhatsApp issued a clarification today. The new privacy policy states that WhatsApp will be able to share information with Facebook regarding groups, profile pictures, payments information etc. for analysis purposes to target ads on Facebook. In the clarification, WhatsApp stated that users' private messages, call logs, location, contact information will not be shared with Facebook. And the intent behind making changes in the existing policy is to improve communication with businesses using Facebook hosting services. Facebook clarified that through commerces features like Shops, users can get personalised ads on Instagram and Facebook and will also have the option to interact with businesses directly.

But the privacy advocates still suggest people to switch to safer options like Telegram and Signal because as far as privacy practices are concerned, Facebook does not hold a stellar record. This new policy has already led to a 7% decline in daily installs of WhatsApp but became a big reason for meteoric rise of Signal with around 1 million new users.

Signal offers end-to-end encryption with no support for third party backups which means all the data remains stored locally on the device. Also, if you somehow lose acces to the device, the chat history cannot be recovered. As the app is run by non-profit, it does not sell your data for advertisements. The platform supports video and audio-calling with end-to-end encryption.

Telegram is also a decent alternative as it also offers end-to-end encryption and allows users to share files as big as 1.5GB. Currently, it is an ad-free service but the company has announced its monetisation plans so advertisements on the app can be rolled out in near future. As Telegram is a cloud-based service so data is synchronised across all your registered devices.

Although WhatsApp is in the middle of a storm yet you must stay away from misinformation and choose to migrate to a suitable app as per your convenience. Be it bidding adieu to WhatsApp or staying on it, read the terms and conditions carefully and then decide. 

With technological advancement and exponential growth of data, there comes a great challenge and responsibility of protecting it. If big tech giants with such vast user base starts collecting sensitive personal information, it can be a major breach of trust for users and pose bigger threats for organisations, states and even the country. Indeed, it is overwhelming to access all such apps, but there is a cost to everything and we must choose wisely.

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Hardeep Bali