We’ve seen a fairly significant response to the recent changes to Whatsapp terms and conditions. Now while very little has actually changed, the data sharing between Whatsapp and Facebook has been spelled out in black and white. This caused some alarm for a lot of users who were blissfully unaware of what was happening. While the furore has delayed the finalisation of the new terms and conditions, it hasn’t stopped them.
As part of this delay, WhatsApp has also made it very clear what happens if you don’t agree to the terms.
To give you enough time to review changes at your own pace and convenience, we’ve extended the effective date to May 15th. If you haven’t accepted by then, WhatsApp will not delete your account. However, you won’t have the full functionality of WhatsApp until you accept. For a short time, you’ll be able to receive calls and notifications, but won’t be able to read or send messages from the app.
Interestingly, in the coming week or so; users who continue to use WhatsApp will start to see banners appear in their app. This is with the aim to clear up confusion caused, as well as misinformation perpetuated about what is, or isn’t being shared between WhatsApp and Facebook. They are very quick to point out that end-to-end encryption still is, and always will be part of their pathway forward:
We want everyone to know our history of defending end-to-end encryption and trust we’re committed to protecting people’s privacy and security. We’re now using our Status feature to share our values and updates directly within WhatsApp. We’ll be doing much more to make our voice clear going forward.
For those that are happy to stick with Whatsapp for your group chats, or individual messaging options you’ll continue to have access to one of the biggest platforms on the planet. For those of you who see this as the trigger to leave, there’s plenty of options, all of which are scrambling to grab some of the messaging market share currently in limbo.
What are the options
The reality is there are a lot of them around and the choice you make — if you choose to move — is, in part at least, going to be dedicated by where your friends and family reside. For the sake of argument here, since a large part of the issue is sharing data with Facebook, let’s ignore any Facebook affiliated options: WhatsApp, Facebook Messenger and Instagram.
For many who are looking for security and privacy, Signal and Telegram (how we communicate at Ausdroid) are high on the list of options. They’re both recognised as highly secure, user friendly and great for 1:1 or group chats, but don’t discount the dark horses in this race.
There’s a couple of “old school” messaging options that are well worth looking into if you’ve got contacts using them readily, Skype and Viber.
It’s Skype and it was one of the biggest platforms around for many years. But fell into a void when purchased by Microsoft, never really recovering and now business users are setting themselves for forced migration to Microsoft Teams. For personal use, it’s a pretty solid option with Windows, Mac, iOS and of course, Android install clients available and continuity of conversations across them all.
One of the quiet achievers of the messaging market, but with an impressive range of features. The other interesting factor that many people underestimate with Viber is, due to the 160 million or so active users, the odds are that you know people already on the platform. The owner of Viber, Rakuten has been fairly public since the WhatsApp and Facebook furore to note a couple of particular pieces of information:
- As part of its role in protecting users’ data, in June 2020, Viber announced that it cut all business ties with Facebook. No user information (users’ phone numbers or personal data) is or will be, shared with Facebook or its ecosystem.
- Viber offers End-to-end encryption by default – no special settings required.
When it comes to group messaging, general chatter and even voice communications the likes of Discord and Slack are no slouches either. Both have a great userbase but are a bit more focussed on organised groups vs 1:1 or family group chats.
Where to now?
WhatsApp is definitely losing a chunk of its 2 billion user market. Some have simply been looking for a reason to leave, others will follow their friends and family for the ease of communication. Regardless of your motivation to stay or move, what is highlighted by the current situation is that users — as they should — are starting to take their privacy more seriously. This change in user mentality will force the hand of app developers to take further steps, quickly to maintain their market, let alone grab some of the markets that now appears to be in limbo.