Yes, You Should Delete WhatsApp

And download Signal

Photo by Christian Wiediger on Unsplash

Facebook already has so much data on you that it’s almost equivalent to it having access to your thoughts. And if that wasn’t enough, the social-media behemoth now demands access to your Whatsapp data as well.

A recent update to Whatsapp’s privacy policy leaves its users with two choices: either share your data with Facebook or delete your account.

According to an in-app notification, users of the Facebook-owned messaging service need to accept the new terms by February 8, 2021, or not accept them, “if they would prefer to delete their account.” (Update: Whatsapp has now moved the date to May 15 among increased backlash)

The update comes at a time when Facebook and WhatsApp are already facing a backlash against their data collection practices. Here’s one example: Apple recently introduced new privacy labels in the App Store which clearly indicates that the two apps lead in user data collection. Have a look.

Data collected by Whatsapp
Data collected by Facebook

Along with the above data that can be linked to you, Facebook also uses your data to track you across apps and websites. And don’t even get me started on Facebook Messenger. It’s no surprise that Facebook has been the most vocal critic in regards to Apple’s new privacy changes.

No, this isn’t normal.

If you’re somehow convinced that this must be the new normal. It isn’t. At least, not yet. Have a look at the same privacy labels for rival app Signal:

Data collected by Signal

Signal was created by Brian Acton, the co-founder of WhatsApp, who left the company after Facebook’s acquisition of it, along with Moxie Marlinspike. During a Reddit Q&A, here’s how Singal responded to the question, “What public reassurance can you give that says Signal won’t be another sellout?”

We’ve done two things to make sure that is the case.

First, we’ve designed the app from the ground up to not know anything about anything. Unlike other apps, we don’t have access to your contacts, your groups, your messages, your images, your searches, etc. So we don’t have access to any of your data to begin with, even if we wanted to do something with it (which we don’t).

Second, we’ve structured the project as a non-profit entity, so it can never be bought, has no investors, and isn’t “owned” by anyone. We did this because we wanted to be “for” something other than profit, and we wanted to make sure the organization was only incentivized to create something that is in the best interest of the people who depend on it.

Signal’s source code is completely free and open-source. The app has almost all of the features WhatApp has to offer, is working on plenty more, and is being endorsed by the likes of Snowden and Musk.

The rise of Signal

Facebook has an insatiable diet for user data. In fact, it’s precisely why it paid a ton of money to acquire WhatsApp in the first place.

And while Facebook might be playing on its “strong network effect” in being able to ask users to sign up for its terms or get lost. But, in reality, WhatsApp’s new policy changes have already forced at least some of its 2 billion-plus users to look for alternatives.

Enough of them have downloaded Signal to make it the number one free social media app on the App Store, rising 44 ranks since January 3rd, 2021. And this is in the U.S alone.

The trend remains the same across the Google Play Store and extends to even more countries. In India, which is WhatsApp’s biggest market with 400 million-plus users, Signal has moved up by at least 50 ranks to take the number one spot from WhatsApp.

It’s time to make a choice

In the end, while Facebook might be convinced that it has left its users with no choice, it has in fact opened our eyes to the options that were always out there and at zero switching cost. It’s time we held Facebook accountable. It’s time to show big tech that it just can’t get away with anything.

And it isn’t just time to show we have a choice, it’s time to make that choice.

Delete. Whatsapp. Now.

Words in OneZero, DeBugger, Index, and more.

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