Privacy Concerns Over WhatsApp’s New Policies?

Recent changes in privacy policy have brought WhatsApp, the instant messaging platform, under a lot of criticism and controversy, causing mass exodus of its users to other messaging platforms. 

The messaging app updated its privacy policy allowing the company to access various information from the user’s mobile and to share the data with the broader Facebook network, such as Instagram and Messenger, regardless whether anyone has accounts or profiles there. It is wide known that there have already been several privacy concerns with the app, however, until now, sharing data with Facebook was only an option. Making it a mandate to accept the new policy has served as a tipping point for the increasingly aware users. 

Another major concern is the kind of data that WhatsApp will now collect -hardware data like time, frequency and duration of interactions, payments data, general location, signal strength, phone’s battery level, and other similar user information. This data when shared with Facebook can increase targeted marketing, invading the personal space of users. 

The fact that the policies are different across the world has caused greater backlash among the users. While WhatsApp users in India have no other option than accepting the new privacy policy, the data-sharing policies remain pretty much unchanged in Europe. Users in India, forming the majority of the WhatsApp community, have expressed severe concerns over this. Major business leaders have already put out messages publicly encouraging people to migrate to other platforms like Signal and Telegram. In fact, the not-for-profit Signal received so many new users that the app crashed last week. 

WhatsApp has tried to clarify that the private chats of individual users will remain unaffected by these new policy changes and announced again that WhatsApp does not store chat information and has no access to personal files of the users. This new policy will only apply to the users of the WhatsApp business version. However, the chats of individuals with business accounts are not an exception to the policy. 

Even with numerous announcements by the company, the mass sentiment among users remains the same. This reflects the mindset of the users not willing to compromise over their privacy preferences anymore. People were already concerned and this was a mass trigger that was long-pending.Business account holders who want to safeguard their user information are also hesitant as they do not want to share the information that their users have entrusted them with.

With people looking for options that are reliable not only in terms of accessibility but also provide safe and secure communication channels, there are numerous platforms providing means of communication not just for texting but a wide range of audio and video communication and many other integrated services as well. It is time to take the matter into our hands and choose what’s best for us. 

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