Well, the situation is no doubt ambiguous. This recent update quickly began to raise a lot of concern and scepticism in the WhatsApp user base and not without reason. But why are the users so troubled?
Essentially, the update states that for WhatsApp users who own Facebook accounts, from now on their WhatsApp data will be shared with Facebook. If however, users don’t agree to this new policy by February 8th, they will simply lose access to their account. Now although it’s true that this technical possibility existed within WhatsApp since the very start, only now has Facebook decided to leave its users in an inescapable strait between the two mega-platforms.
Now it’s clear that this data has the potential to be utilised for the purpose of improving platform marketing. More personalised advertisements and other threats to personal security will certainly become a reality via this partage of data between two of the biggest messaging platforms in the world. For reference, in 2021 FaceBook’s user base is around 2.7 billion and WhatsApp’s just over 2 billion.
Previous threat encounter
Though this information, in terms of its applicability, still might remain in an embryonic state for a while, there is no guarantee that it won’t be used in the future. In line with foreseeable future policies, it certainly has the potential to become a much greater threat.
Indeed over the recent decade, Facebook has faced an array of privacy-related problems with its users. With the hardly faded memory of the Cambridge Analytica scandal in their minds, it comes with no surprise that the user base can’t help but feel insecurity vis-à-vis this manoeuvre.
Options with ensured security
Many activists around the world, most notably Elon Musk, have been urging the population to redirect themselves to open source platforms, or at least those with better cybersecurity such as Telegram, Signal or in-browser Chat options that highly value user-privacy.
Towards a safer internet
(Written by Hussein Al Bahir)