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How Whatsapp's New Privacy Policy Became Signal's Free Ad Campaign

Whatsapp's Privacy Feature: The End

Whatsapp has become one of the most popular messaging services in the world and is currently running ad free, hosting an astonishing 100 billion messages per day. You might find that mind boggling but try looking at your own messaging history and you'll be surprised (Whatsapp - Settings - Storage and Data - Network Usage). That many messages? Yes.

Since 2014 Whatsapp has become a Facebook subsidiary having been purchased for 19 billion dollars, one of Facebook's largest acquisitions to date. Considering the service doesn't charge for usage and anyone can message away on Whatsapp without ever paying a dime, we question ourselves how it is worth that amount, given that the only value it has to offer is its users personal data - for 19 billion dollars. Oh wait...

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The Promise that didn't hold for long

Since its acquisition and following many scandals of user data privacy with Cambridge Analytica as the cover page, Facebook has promised to keep Whatsapp ad free and data sharing to a minimum with additional end-to-end message encrypting. This seemed to comfort many users until recently.

On February 8 2021, all Whatsapp users have one option only: to accept the new terms and policy or no longer use the platform. But what does this new privacy policy entail? Funny enough, the new Privacy Policy details on how all users will be left with little to no privacy - messaging and calling history, status, group chats' information, payments and even your "last seen" status, will all be leaked to whoever is willing to pay the collection price - Facebook for now. But as Mark Zuckerberg would explain "privacy is an illusion in a digital world", and this soon will be there on a stand with a sticker price for anyone willing to pay, alongside pork chops.

Many of us are left wondering how important this could be since we don't have any stateworthy secrets that are worth the collection anyways. Apart from the enhanced ad directing, we don't see how this can be "bad" for us. Right? Well, that depends on who's paying. Remember that moment in history when the German government was attempting to obtain information on who was jewish and who wasn't? They relied on spies and inside sources (relatives or traitors, usually one being the other). Had whatsapp been released in 1925 a simple text message "see you at the synagogue" would have done the trick. Fortunately it hadn't. And still we all know how that ended.

With emerging subtle dictatorships around the world and apparent harmless political speeches that hint towards a direction of control of the masses, you might want to hold on to your personal data for a bit longer. Even if what you had for dinner last night seems of no apparent harm.

Thankfully there are options

With many messaging services throughout the world, no app has seemed to benefit from this as the non-disclosing proclaimed app Signal. With all the same features as Whatsapp and free of charge, and now the recent change in its competitor's data sharing policy, Signal has seen a boost of downloads from 10 million to 45 million, being claimed by many including Elon Musk himself as "considered the most secure instant messaging app".

But as with all messaging services, their usefulness and success is dependent on its number of users as there is no point of using a messaging app if my friends and family aren't going to download it. Unless talking to yourself is an option.

Telegram has also seen a less but yet notable surge in downloads in the last few days, claiming the same privacy status as the currently trending app Signal and as seen by the global outrage, both services will probably propel many users until Whatsapp's final doomsday, February 8, 2021.

What are your thoughts?

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