Alright so does this have to do with the Facebook takeover (Facebook just bought whatsapp for $16 billion if you aren’t aware yet)? Yeah, it does. Is it about something else too? Yeah, it is. Read on and evaluate my reasons and the suggested alternative.
Whatsapp was never known for its strong security despite what they say. At some point anyone around you with an app called “Whatsapp Sniffer” was able to “scan the air”, see and read your messages, loud and clear. Security got tighter since then but it still has major flaws. If you’re interested to do a little more reading about how serious this is you can check out PCWorld’s article here (which was only posted 2 hours ago), security company Mcafee’s article here as well as tons of other articles related to the issue if you google “whatsapp security issues”.
Okay, I hear you. You’re going “Man, who cares, it’s not like I’m plotting a terrorist attack or I’m some CIA operative, what do I need the security garbage for?”. I actually agree, but psychologically speaking, it’s a lot nicer to feel that you aren’t being surveilled by tons of governments. Sure, you and I think we’re “nobodies” but the peace of mind security brings is pretty cool, I can tell you that. If this isn’t a compelling enough reason for you, read on.
Facebook can claim nothing will change as much and as often as they want. Everyone and their mothers know they didn’t pay $16 billion so that “nothing would change”. If we’re talking usability, Facebook recently started trying to make money off of EVERYTHING to keep investors happy. It won’t be very soon but my bet is, 1 month, 6 months, 1 year from now, whatsapp will most likely be “monetized” as well, meaning they will try to make money off it using ads. You’re saying no, that can’t happen they’d immediately lose users. Well, let’s say you’re right. Move on to the next point, which will most certainly happen.
If you recall, Facebook had recently rebranded its “Facebook Messenger” mobile app to just “Messenger”, and changed its logo. Once you download it, it would ask for access to your contacts list. This was an attempt from Facebook to merge your Facebook friends with your mobile “contacts” while gathering your phone number and the phone numbers (and any other details) you have on your contacts. Welcome to the world of profiling. More on that in a moment. Obviously though, people weren’t too happy about Facebook’s new “Messenger”, a lot of people (like me) did not want my Facebook world and whatsapp world in the same app. A lot of us didn’t want the lines between FB friends and mobile contacts blurred.
Initiate Plan B.
Of course being not too happy about that, Facebook took another approach. That’s basically Plan B for all companies when they fail to do the thing by themselves, just buy someone that already does and hence them acquiring whatsapp with a crazy amount of money.
You wanna know what happens next or do I need to tell you? They get to do what they’ve always wanted to do since the very beginning, merge your mobile contacts data with the data they have on you from Facebook. So even if nothing changes in front of your eyes, and whatsapp remains “whatsapp”, a HELL LOT will change behind the scenes. Since you don’t typically see “behind the scenes”, they can safely tell you that “nothing will change” when a lot will. The behind the scenes change is the minimal, they might merge whatsapp with Facebook chat (like they attempted to do with “Messenger”), who knows.
Profiling, Level: Ninja.
Enter the world of profiling. This is not information I obtain from rumors or anything like that. This is something I see and experience hands on, being one of the people who advertise on Facebook’s platform. As an advertiser you have crazy flexibility in the way you “define” the people your ads show to. I can target you with my ad based on your age, sex, marital status, places you’ve been to and events you’ve attended, pages you’ve liked or things you’ve interacted with. They give me incredibly powerful tools to “reach” the people I want, the people most likely to respond to my offer so that I make money and in turn they do too.
Acquiring whatsapp takes this shit to a whole new level. They’ll get a lot more data on you from whatsapp and use that data for even “deeper” profiling, eventually giving me even more crazy tools to target you.
What to do?
I’m glad you asked. You switch to something else. And no, no one has paid me or asked me to recommend anything. Viber? Any of those other popular alternatives? Well, no, Telegram. It’s available for iOS and Android, click here to download it (link works on iOS and Android.)
Okay I hear you, you’re asking what? why? But, Youssef, I’ve never heard of that app and no one I knew uses it, and why’s it better than whatsapp?
Better yeah…better how?
Let’s tackle one issue at a time. First off, why it’s better. Telegram is a lot faster (at least on my iPhone) and robust than Whatsapp, I almost NEVER got the “clock” sign that means it’s still sending a message. Not just that, its interface is VERY similar to whatsapp, you wouldn’t even notice you left. It’s very clean and slick, it loads fast, sends fast. What else? It’s capable of using “end-to-end” encryption for conversations.
This practically means, and without going into a lot of technical details, that the owners of Telegram can’t read your messages even if they wanted to, even if the authorities forced them to. Its Russian developer offered $200,000 to anyone capable of breaking its encryption. Did I also mention he’s Russian? American companies love preying on people’s data. Russians, not so much. Not enough for you? It also comes with some awesome bonus features, like the ability to set messages to immediately expire after seconds, minutes, hours or weeks, messages die forever. The concept is very similar to that of Snapchat’s.
So it’s exactly the same as whatsapp but faster, cleaner, more robust, a lot more secure and comes with cute bonus features. It’ll make sure your “whatsapp world” stays like this, not jump in bed with Facebook and give birth to who knows what.
My friends yo’, them all on whatsapp!
Onto your other concern, your friends not using the app. Well, tell them to! Refer them to this blog post. It takes one click and you carry on with your life normally as if you’re still using whatsapp. Friends still don’t wanna hop in? Your phone supports downloading “multiple apps” right? Download it, keep it there for when the shit storm arrives. You don’t lose anything and I’m telling you very early on now so that you and your friends can “transition”.
So even if you don’t believe a word I said and this article makes absolutely no sense to you, grab your umbrella early on and try to get your friends to grab theirs as well, in case crazy me is right and the shit storm blows. Do yourself a favor and grab it here. 😉