Ditch WhatsApp, protect the privacy of your friends and family. Use a real private messenger.
Whatsapp needs little introduction, it's a data harvesting company that extracts personal information via widespread application of social incentives on behalf of its owner, Facebook. It's also allegedly a messaging and VoIP app.
Respect for your privacy is coded into our DNA. Since we started WhatsApp, we’ve aspired to build our Services with a set of strong privacy principles in mind.
has been removed entirely in the new version. Sentiment isn't worth much in documents like this, when a sentence or two can jeopardize the privacy of billions of users, but this change might be foreshadowing. A bit.
This was not one of the boring updates.
Here's the exact differences:
This is unambiguous: WhatsApp is going to share user data with Facebook. Some more troubling details are found in the new version's Automatically Collected Information section:
Usage And Log Information. [...] This includes information about your activity (including how you use our Services, your Services settings, how you interact with others using our Services (including when you interact with a business), and the time, frequency, and duration of your activities and interactions), log files, and diagnostic, crash, website, and performance logs and reports. [...]
Device And Connection Information. [...] This includes information such as hardware model, operating system information, battery level, signal strength, app version, browser information, mobile network, connection information (including phone number, mobile operator or ISP), language and time zone, IP address, device operations information, and identifiers (including identifiers unique to Facebook Company Products associated with the same device or account).
Location Information. We collect and use precise location information from your device with your permission when you choose to use location-related features, like when you decide to share your location with your contacts or view locations nearby or locations others have shared with you [....] Even if you do not use our location-related features, we use IP addresses and other information like phone number area codes to estimate your general location (e.g., city and country). [...]
WhatsApp siphoning and storing your personal data is for your protection, apparently.
Can I gate functionality on agreeing to allow tracking, or incentivize users to agree to allow tracking in the app tracking transparency prompt?
No, per the App Store Review Guidelines: 3.2.2 (vi).
Perhaps we will see WhatsApp LLC vs. Apple, Inc. in the near future.
People just submitted it. / I don't know why. / They "trust me" / Dumb fucks.
- Mark Zuckerberg, source
Facebook has shown that they can influence your emotions, your political activity, your purchasing habits, its use is negatively correlated with political awareness and knowledge, they have demonstrated that privacy laws won't get in their way (and that users are not intelligent enough to understand their own data).
Facebook is hoarding data, from users and non-users alike. It's not at all dystopian that a social media company maintains profiles on people that have never used it, right?
Facebook can hardly be called a data broker; they are a data harvester. Companies and applications like WhatsApp hand your personal info to companies like Facebook, who use it to exert greater and greater degrees of control over your life. Or, at least, to extract greater and greater amounts of money from you, the loss of agency is a side effect.
When you use Facebook, you are surrendering your data, privacy, your emotional agency, your political agency and awareness, your financial agency, and the data and privacy of anyone that Facebook can get to through your data.
Facebook is antithetical to privacy. WhatsApp furnishes your data to Facebook, so WhatsApp is antithetical to privacy. Naturally, we of the Status community and organization think this is not cool.
WhatsApp is disrupting privacy policies by taking out the "privacy" element. Signal is trying to cut down on the "policy", i.e. less legalese obscuring the important parts, more straightforward explanation.
Guided by our principles, Status is designed to protect your privacy and process as little personal data as possible for the network to thrive; Status enables pseudo anonymity, strives to provide the right of total anonymity, and offers ways to selectively reveal oneself to the world.
Status also has a new and improved ToS, that, we'd like to think, is fairly readable. You don't have to trust that you're not agreeing to more than you bargained for, because the whole document is only a few pages of easily digested sections.
WhatsApp is "optimizing" human communication—by extracting more value from it. If you don't want your data harvested for Facebook to abuse, check out some of the privacy-forward alternatives out there. Of course, there's own secure messaging app Status, or even Signal - we love Signal, but for now they still require phone numbers, so if you're looking to preserve your privacy to the maximum possible extent, get Status.
Also, here are some resources for getting friends and family to ditch WhatsApp.
7: In an incredible quest to retrieve personal data from Facebook, Facebook decided that, because the GDPR mandates information be in "a concise, transparent, intelligible and easily accessible form, using clear and plain language", that their obligations per the GDPR only cover data that is "concise, transparent, ..."
At its most basic, this means that the information Facebook provides in response to a request should be capable of being understood by the average person. Highly technical data in its original form is likely to be meaningless to the average Facebook user and providing such data would be inconsistent with Facebook’s GDPR obligations.
- Alex, Privacy Operations at Facebook
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