All You Need to Know About the Recent Data Privacy Discord

All You Need to Know About the Recent Data Privacy Discord

Recently in the first week of January, WhatsApp announced a new privacy policy update that no longer permitted its users the option to opt out of sharing their data to parent company Facebook. This generated a sense of panic across the billions of WhatsApp users from around the world, as personal data such as phone numbers, address books, pictures would now be automatically shared with Facebook. The new policies were supposed to be rolled out on February 8th

Here’s what the policy read:

“As part of the Facebook family of companies, WhatsApp receives information from, and shares information with, this family of companies. We may use the information we receive from them, and they may use the information we share with them, to help operate, provide, improve, understand, customize, support, and market our Services and their offerings.”

Under the policy guidelines WhatsApp users were given two options; either accept the terms or delete their WhatsApp account. The 2 billion strong WhatsApp user base obviously went into a frenzy mode. From then onwards, things escalated fast in this world of misinformation that personal text messages would also now be in the hands of Facebook, although WhatsApp repeatedly denied it from the start. In no time at all it was one of the trendiest topics across all Social media platforms, filled with memes ridiculing the WhatsApp HQ to serious tweets and discussions across millions of forums. The Founder of Tesla Elon Musk, also had a say in this matter, and suggested its 40 million strong Twitter followers to switch over to the Signal App instead via a Tweet.

This led WhatsApp Chief Will Cathcart to come up with a Tweet of his own responding to the rumors. This is what Cathcart Tweeted:

“With end-to-end encryption, we cannot see your private chats or calls and neither can Facebook. We’re committed to this technology and committed to defending it globally”. “It’s important for us to be clear this update describes business communication and does not change WhatsApp’s data sharing practices with Facebook. It does not impact how people communicate privately with friends or family wherever they are in the world.”


The Rise of Signal and Telegram

All these events prompted millions of WhatsApp users to switch over to a more secured alternative messaging platform. Overnight Telegram - another end-to-end encryption enabled messaging platform more popular among cults and extremist groups because of the safe heaven it provides, crossed the 500 million active user mark within 72 hours with 38% coming from Asia, 27% from Europe, 21% from Latin America, and 8% from MENA.

While Elon Musk’s suggested Signal App became the most downloaded App on Play Store during the first week of January, 2021. In just a matter of three weeks Signal App gained a total of 7.2 million active users. Here is another crazy stat: On January 6 in the UK, Signal was not even in the list of the 10,000 most popular apps in Britain, and by January 9, it was the most downloaded app in the country.

The recent mass exodus from WhatsApp only suggests that consumers from across the globe take their personal information very seriously, and are not at all keen to share private data. All the frenzy surrounding data privacy have also forced WhatsApp to hold down the policies up until May 8th, however, the new policies will be still brought into effect.