Privacy In Real Life – consumers make the change from WhatsApp to Signal

–– 23 Jan 2021

WhatsApp vs Signal 

For years, WhatsApp has been considered the stronghold of privacy when it comes to messaging privately with their end-to-end encryption protocols. However, on May 15th, they will be launching an update that includes changing how their terms of service policy works for those who interact with the WhatsApp business accounts. This update caused mass hysteria as many people believed the update to be more intrusive for personal accounts and started making the switch to different platforms as they lost trust in the app and the company that owns it, Facebook

The change will allow business accounts to be able to use Facebook hosting services to manage their WhatsApp chats, use Facebook-branded trading features such as Shops, and display an ad on Facebook to message the business directly on WhatsApp. By agreeing to this new policy, users will allow Facebook to collect information on anyone who decides to interact with these businesses and their advertisements, much like clicking an ad on Facebook. 

Why should you care? This type of data breach shows the real-world issues with Web 2 and infringes upon your right to privacy after trusting a service with your data. Many people believe this update is telling signs of what’s to come for the future and what’s left of their privacy policies. Facebook has harvested WhatsApp data in the past and this new update reminded people of that fact, therefore the rush of users fleeing from the platform is unsurprising as they clearly don’t like how the two are connected. 

Therefore, users are starting to move to other messaging platforms, such as Signal and Telegram which provide not only a more private solution but a more secure one too. Both Telegram and Signal use end-to-end encryption between the user and their recipient. This means that everything is private and confidential between the two entities, and no-one else can view the messages, not even the companies themselves.

The whole controversy between these applications has caused a massive spike in users for Telegram which boasts 500 million active users on January 15th, and Signal with over 20million in December 2020 but has recently added they now have 50 million downloads on Google Play. 

In Real Life – The Public Opinion

In conjunction with Data Privacy Day, Tapmydata is publishing a series of interviews with members of the public where we focus on issues that affect them IRL – In Real Life – and show attitudes and behavior are changing.

This builds on our work with academics, activists, and technologists in the space of privacy and citizen data, and our belief that 2021 is the year new solutions to old challenges break into the mainstream.

We start with the exodus from WhatsApp to Signal following its announcement. To balance commentary from journalists, lawyers, and industry talking heads, we interviewed Spyros from London, one of the ‘baby boomer’ generation who embraced tech and are now making changes in their digital lifestyle influenced by privacy and data ethics concerns.

The full interview can be found here – some key points:

· COVID turned him from an occasional to the habitual user of WhatsApp – it was secure, his friends and family were all on it and video calling was easy to get started.

· In the space of 48 hours, family members and friends in the UK and abroad all started moving to Signal due to concerns about privacy, articles in the press, and online videos.

· All the same features were available on Signal, although only about 10% of the users so far, so he is running both simultaneously.

· He’s aware his info has been used and sold to provide digital goods but appreciates the new business model of Signal and is willing to donate his data to support it and other good causes.

· Doesn’t think WhatsApp is breaking any laws but questions the morality of fortunes being made from data without ordinary people benefiting, or at least being aware of what’s going on.

The Tapmydata Solution

Tapmydata has always believed a compliance approach to data privacy isn’t enough and when people are presented with an ethical alternative they will exercise their right to choose, something which also addresses the problem of digital monopolies concerning policymakers in the EU, US, and the UK. https://www.theregister.com/2020/11/27/uk_dmu/

It’s time for choice and consumer agency when it comes to our most valuable personal asset, and we’d love to talk to more of our users as part of this ongoing series. Please get in touch by joining our community Telegram!

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