What’s Wrong with WhatsApp


Back to the Privacy landing page: Privacy, Security and Social Media


If you want to keep using WhatsApp, that’s up to you! Here are my reasons for not using it any more.

You will have seen an upcoming change to the stated terms.

To be honest, it’s not a huge huge change, it’s just that they have made their links with their parent company Facebook much clearer, and are saying that they are sending meta data to Facebook & other Facebook companies, and using WhatsApp data to add to the profile Facebook hold on you (even for people without a Facebook account).

For some people this isn’t a big deal and they don’t mind being tracked, having their data sent to other businesses etc.

But for some people the change in terms has been a prompt to finally move away from large social media owned companies.

Here are some common questions and objections, with responses. (With thanks to the various people who have asked me variations of these questions!)

“There is no point in removing WhatsApp.”

> It depends what your priorities are. For me, there is a point.

“The Signal foundation was created by the co-creator of WhatsApp.”

> Yes, who left WhatsApp after its acquisition by Facebook, to focus on creating a private nonprofit communication system. This is -if anything- an argument in favour of Signal.

“Both WhatsApp and Signal are encrypted, so wouldn’t security be roughly the same?”

> As WhatsApp is closed source, the full extent of this (including where the encryption keys are held, and whether they are copied to a Facebook server) has to be taken on trust. Trust being placed in the company Facebook (which I personally don’t trust). Signal is open source, which means all of its claims can be and are independently checked.

In addition, security isn’t the same as privacy. WhatsApp can claim to be fully secure but still collect metadata (more on this below).

“The chances are that at some point in the future they will sell to Facebook, Google or similar.”

>Well if that hypothetically were to happen, many of their users would “fork” the open source software, which means creating a new open source platform. Currently they are not owned by a proprietary company, while Facebook is quite a large proprietary company.

“There appears to be no difference in tech.”

> Application of the encryption protocol is the same, but the underlying closed source application is not the same. This means it could be doing anything to your data (passing it to other businesses etc), and, more importantly, it explicitly says it is sending meta data back to Facebook.

“The only difference seems to be that Facebook owns it. If you have a Facebook account then they have access to your data anyway.”

>The fact that Facebook owns it is quite a significant difference. Facebook have access to much more data when combined with the usage details of WhatsApp.

“Data” is not one big blob that they either have or don’t have.

I don’t use Facebook messenger, and I don’t connect my phone number to my Facebook account. I don’t have personal info on Facebook (I deleted my account about five years ago, and the account I use now is only for keeping track of events). I don’t use the Facebook app.

So for me, and perhaps for others, this is quite a significant difference.

“I don’t want yet another app.”

> That’s up to you! We all have different priorities.

——-

Here is an explanation in images from a reddit user (community checked and corrected):

“So I’m deinstalling WhatsApp …”

Why not have a look! You can always delete it again:

signal.org/download

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