Ah, WhatsApp. What would we do without you? All those weirdly-named friendship groups, family chats littered with in-jokes and hen party photo sharing of our pre-Covid past. Well, it turns out lots of people have decided to quit the messaging platform for good and instead turning to using alternative platforms.
Why? Because the Facebook-owned service, which has over two billion users worldwide, has announced that users need to agree to its new terms and services from February 8.
So what are these changes that are causing concern among some users? The new terms and conditions relate to messaging a business on WhatsApp, which is optional, and also adds information about how the Facebook-owned chat app will collect and use data. Those that do not agree to the new terms will be unable to use the Facebook-owned app.
WhatsApp said users will need to accept the updates if they want to continue using the app or else they can choose to delete their account.
According to WhatsApp, the changes will help it better integrate with Facebook and they’ve tried to reassure users that WhatsApp cannot see their private messages or hear their calls, and neither can Facebook. In a blog post they wrote, “We don’t keep logs of who everyone is messaging or calling. We can’t see your shared location and neither can Facebook,” it added.
In a statement to GLAMOUR, WhatsApp said, “We want to be clear that the policy update does not affect the privacy of your messages with friends or family in any way.”
However, other metadata such as call records, location and even financial information may be shared if you are using WhatsApp and many technology experts and privacy advocates have raised concerns as they fear Facebook has had a pretty poor track record in handling user data in the past.
So, if like many, you’d rather protect your data and leave WhatsApp for good, what are the other messaging platforms out there that won’t share your data?
Here’s are the best alternatives…
Telegram is considered one of the biggest rivals to Whatsapp and in the last few days has picked nearly 2.2 million downloads, according to data analytics firm Sensor Tower. The app looks almost identical to WhatsApp in terms of functionality.
When it comes to privacy, however, Telegram is winning users over thanks to its Secret Chats feature which offers users the chance for messages to disappear from both your device and the recipient’s after a certain period of time. Telegram also works on desktop, mobile and on the web.
While Telegram is currently free to use, founder Pavel Durov has said the service will begin monetising the app in 2021 to support its growth but he’s maintained that he will not sell the company “like the founders of WhatsApp” but it will start charging for premium stickers and introduce ads on massive public channels.
In response to WhatsApp’s move, Durov said: “People no longer want to exchange their privacy for free services.”
The downsides: Group video calls aren’t supported at the moment
This messaging app said it received record levels of downloads when WhatsApp announced its new data move, with more than 100,000 users installing it in the last week.
Signal offers tight privacy features including end-to-end encryption but interestingly of all, the app is open-source which means all of the code is publicly available to view. In plain English, this means the creators aren’t able to make secret deals with private companies or give governments or hackers access to your messages without everyone knowing.
The company claims that it does not track users for advertising or marketing purposes.
The downsides: Group video calls of up to five users only. The company is an independent non-profit, so relies on donations and grants to support development which could prove problematic later down the line with growth that’s impossible to sustain without investment.
After WhatsApp’s popularity, Apple built its own messaging app, iMessage, with the ability to share pictures, videos etc with ease and it’s already downloaded on your phone. You can also use Apple Pay in the app making money transfers simple, as well as the ability to send some hilarious animojis too.
The downsides: It only works on iPhone to iPhone so anyone with android is off the cards.
As you can probably guess, this is Google’s response to WhatsApp. Available on the Play Store, this app replaces the usual SMS app and integrates with all Google’s other apps and services, meaning you can easily share Google Photos, use the Google Assistant to make reservations or meeting requests.
The downsides: It’s android-only.