Tech mogul Elon Musk known as widely for slinging cars into the sun’s orbit as he is for advocating against COVID-19 safety measures took to Twitter Thursday to slam Facebook over its latest privacy policy updates for its supposedly secure encrypted messaging app WhatsApp. Musk instead recommended users choose encrypted messaging app Signal. 

The tweet was then retweeted by Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey. Shortly after, Signal tweeted that it was working to handle the surge of new users. 

Initial promise of continued privacy

When Facebook obtained WhatsApp for $19 billion, they vowed user privacy protection, and that no modifications would be made to it. The messaging app’s data used to be then again shared via default with Facebook for higher advert targeting – however, the users should opt-out any time barring any strings attached. Now, the tables have grown to become (outside of Europe at least) as the opt-out choice is going to be absolutely eliminated by means of February 8. Decline the new policies and you’ll no longer be able to use WhatsApp at all.

The U-turn from the “respect for your privacy” DNA of the app with the end-to-end encryption throughout chats right since 2016 is disappointing, to say the least. Obviously, the app has landed in the incorrect hands, and now Facebook is doing everything to make the most user data for its own revenue-generating factors that have deep roots in how the business model operates.

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New policy laid down

The privacy policy and terms of service have been laid down in a lengthy 8,000 odd words legal jargon (like each different policy on the planet) that in the nice case would now not be clear to a regular user. To reduce short, now the service will share data with the guardian company together with location data, battery level, IMEI number, mobile network, and even more.

Not solely this, the app will share information to the guardian company Facebook about the groups you are collaborating in, real-time status, profile picture, or even the data about your online status on the app. If that wasn’t enough, WhatsApp has a separate section in the new policy by way of the name “Transactions and Payments data.” If you’ve already assumed, then let us inform you for the sake of it – the information of your payments made thru the app will additionally be stored. Facebook claims to use this simply for evaluation purposes and let’s hope it remains that way – in the worst-case scenario.

While as the unassuming user you may suppose that has no repercussions however specialists know there’s a lot to lose in the lengthy run as your private data is now exposed to even greater chances of exploitation even though Facebook would no longer inherently prefer to do that, however in the on-line space things aren’t as easy as they seem.

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Alternatives that’ll serve you better

WhatsApp has put users’ data out in the open by serving it to parent company Facebook, and consequently to third-party apps and who knows what else. So, it is a wise move to go for more secure, better, and refreshing services that won’t leave your privacy in jeopardy.

Signal

The cross-platform messaging app developed by using the Signal Foundation and Signal Messenger LLC is comparable to WhatsApp in extra methods than one. You can send private or group messages to associates and family – which include the functionality to send files, pictures, audio files or make voice/video calls. Add to that features like onscreen privateness options, anti-surveillance tools, and disappearing messages and you may really fancy the service.

The open-source free app has a very clear privateness policy, the messages are end-to-end encrypted – any user information is now not linked to the identification, and user data is now not saved on the servers. Even the richest man on the planet, Elon Musk, has urged users to use Signal over the user information and privateness issues that Facebook has long been alleged for. This has already sky-rocketed downloads for the app, to a true measure.

Telegram

Another free to use platform that gives itself as a first-rate choice to WhatsApp. Telegram is additionally end-to-end encrypted and it makes use of an extra secure MTProto protocol for high-grade security. Telegram makes use of an abnormal disbursed infrastructure whereby the relevant decryption keys are divided into two components – and they are “never stored in the equal place as the data they protect.”

The app has been playing 2nd fiddle to WhatsApp for quite some time now however the fortunes are destined to change. The provider brings common features like any different messaging app and some quirky ones too. There is the capability to create supergroups of up to 100,000 people, sharing of massive files – up to 1.5GB, end-to-end encrypted secret chats.

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You can even play video games inside the app with the aid of the game bots and the by-the-way voice call feature is well worth mentioning. The solely gripe is the lack of video calling – so, if that isn’t a deal-breaker, Telegram is an exquisite option.

Threema

If Signal or Telegram is now not to your complete liking, then there’s some other app to explore. The paid app is for those who don’t want to compromise with their private data in any way. The open-source app is end-to-end encrypted and creates as little data as viable on the servers. Everything from your private files, voice calls to the crew chats, and location data are 100% secure with Threema.

The app makes use of an 8-digit ID alternatively than the usage of your current phone number, that way it provides every other layer of personal data protection to the package. Also, any other privateness gain comes in the form of non-login to the IP addresses or the metadata, accordingly getting rid of any chances of monitoring users or profiling them altogether.

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