Users seek out WhatsApp alternatives following privacy concerns

Chat apps Signal and Telecom prepare for increased traffic, with increased downloads and celebrity endorsements

 

Changes are coming to WhatsApp's privacy policy, and users will need to agree to share app data with Facebook by February 8th in order to keep using the service. Other changes implement business hosting via the messenger app and new ecommerce features.

Some of the data users will be required to authorize sharing with Facebook – WhatsApp's parent company – includes:

  • IP address, as well as browser and ISP information.
  • Details about your device – your mobile network, phone model, make and number.
  • Personal details – such as your name when you register.
  • Transactions made via WhatsApp.

Naturally, the shift in WhatsApp's privacy policy sparked concern online, though the messenger app cites that it has always shared data with Facebook. But the pacification may be too little, too late, as users flock to alternative services, despite potentially having years of chats, saved contacts and media stored in the app.

WhatsApp users can rest assured that their conversations will not be shared with Facebook, however, seeing as WhatsApp makes use of the same end-to-end encryption as Signal – one of the apps being highlighted as a viable, secure, alternative. In fact, even Elon Musk has touted the app (in his own brusque fashion), tweeting "Use Signal".

Signal has seen an influx of new users since WhatsApps privacy updates were unveiled, and the company co-founded by Brian Acton, who previously acted as co-founder of WhatsApp. Acton parted ways with WhatsApp after growing concerned about the treatment of user data, and Facebook's role in the app's operations.

Signal was downloaded 246,000 times during the week before the WhatsApp changes were announced on January 4th, a number that soared to 8.8 million the following week.

Sensor Tower has reported that Signal was downloaded 246,000 times during the week before the WhatsApp changes were announced, on January 4th, a number that soared to 8.8 million the following week. As a result, Signal is now the App Store and Play Store's most downloaded app. This rush of users caused a bit of commotion, particularly with verification code delays and the creation of groups, but Signal addressed the issue via Twitter, claiming to be tackling the problem.

Signal's end-to-end encryption has made it a favorite of journalists and human rights activists, and Edward Snowden even advocated for the app, saying: "I use it every day and I'm not dead yet".

Disconcerted WhatsApp users also took to Telegram, which found popularity amongst the cryptocurrency community, boosting downloads from 6.5 million during the week commencing December 28th, and 11 million the week immediately after.

Whilst WhatsApp informed all users about its pending privacy policy update, the changes will only actually affect users outside of the EU – and yes, the "EU" includes Britain for the time being – due to tighter privacy regulations.

Niamh Sweeney, WhatsApp's director of policy, clarified via Twitter that EU users will not need to agree to share data with Facebook.

It remains the case that WhatsApp does not share European Region WhatsApp user data with Facebook for the purpose of Facebook using this data to improve its products or ads.

Niamh Sweeney

WhatsApp raced to allay concerns about how personal data will be collected from WhatsApp, as well as who it will be shared with. In a recent statement, WhatsApp claimed that:

The policy update does not affect the privacy of your messages with friends or family in any way. Instead, this update includes changes related to messaging a business on WhatsApp, which is optional, and provides further transparency about how we collect and use data.

WhatsApp

The statement also outlines WhatsApp's plan to introduce digital shops, where users can purchase goods via the app, if they choose. The update will also include a feature allowing users to message businesses directly via apps, and hosting functionalities for large companies.

Here at ProPrivacy, we've got you covered if you're thinking about swapping WhatsApp out for a more secure, transparent alternative.

Looking for the best secure messaging services?

Check out our guide to privacy messaging apps by clicking the button below!

The best private messengers
 

Written by: Hannah Hart

Originally hailing from Wales, Hannah Hart graduated from Manchester Metropolitan University with a 1:1 in Creative Writing, going on to work as an Editor across a number of trade magazines. As a professional writer, Hannah has worked across both digital and print media, and is familiar with collating news pieces, in depth reports and producing by lines for international publications. Otherwise, she can be found pouring over a tarot deck or spending more hours than she'll ever admit playing Final Fantasy 14.

0 Comments

There are no comments yet.

Got Something to Say?

Write Your Own Comment

Your comment has been sent to the queue. It will appear shortly.

Your comment has been sent to the queue. It will appear shortly.

Your comment has been sent to the queue. It will appear shortly.

  Your comment has been sent to the queue. It will appear shortly.

We recommend you check out one of these alternatives:

The fastest VPN we test, unblocks everything, with amazing service all round

Large brand with very good value, and a cheap price

One of the largest VPNs, voted best VPN by Reddit

One of the cheapest VPNs out there, but an incredibly good service