Much to-do about WhatsApp
It is important to clarify the type of information that WhatsApp will now require you to share in order to continue using the App. The messages that you send will still remain end-to-end encrypted, therefore keeping this content as secure or insecure as it always was. However, the main change will be around the use of specific ‘metadata’ which encompasses the likes of the types of messages and content that you are sending via the App, who you are speaking to and when, as well as the quantitative data around the calls you make, the times you make them, your location as well as the length of your calls and the rates of the messages sent. Ultimately, if you have been using Facebook, Facebook Messenger or Instagram – there is a lot of personal data that you have already shared through these particular Apps. What this now means though is that through the additional new metadata WhatsApp is able to accrue, the company as a whole will now be able to paint a much more detailed picture of who you are as the consumer as this is incredibly valuable and ultimately lucrative information.
Many people have criticised the move as well as questioned the ethical nature of it, including SpaceX and Tesla CEO Elon Musk, who has suggested making use of alternative encrypted messaging Apps. These include Telegram and Signal, who according to TechCrunch editor Mike Butcher who shared a side-by-side comparison of WhatsApp, Signal and Telegram believes that they “are now better alternatives if you are concerned about your privacy.” At the end of the day, it’s important for you as the consumer to have at least a basic understanding of the types of information that you will be sharing with certain Apps when you agree to the T&C’s. Some homework in the meantime – both the Social Dilemma and the Great Hack are good places to start to understand why your data matters and why you should be careful in what and how you share it.