Is it time to bid goodbye to WhatsApp? Shafaqna Analysis

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WhatsApp started rolling out its app-update notifications earlier this week claiming there had been a change in its Terms of Services and Privacy Policy. Users were informed that the application was going to be handling their data rather differently, owing to its new partnership with Facebook. This partnership offered assimilations across the Facebook Company.

Even users, who had been on the application for years, were required to agree to this new policy by February 8, 2021 if they wanted to continue using the service. Some remained on the fence about the news, but the majority felt betrayed. Since the very app they so heavily relied on, suddenly felt unreliable – much like Snapchat. So they flocked to the most cathartic micro-blogging site of all – Twitter.

WhatsApp became the international most famous messaging application by 2015 and has three billion users across the globe as of February 2020. It has become the major means of electronic communication in several countries and locations, including Latin America, the subcontinent, and large parts of Europe and Africa. Soon after announcing its new policy, WhatsApp has come under severe criticism that it will share data with Facebook forcing users to switch for alternatives.

Amid the ongoing controversy over the new policy, Signal and Telegram have emerged as more reliable and secure modes of communication. Signal, the platform, which supports all the features of WhatsApp, can be downloaded from the App Store and Google’s Play Store. Moreover, Signal has a clear standing on its privacy policy. The platform has included multiple features to support privacy such as view-once media, Signal PIN, and more. It is an independent platform, which means that development is supported purely by donations from users.

Reports indicate that over 100,000 users installed the Signal App across application stores such as Google and Apple in two days. On the other hand, the Sensor Tower data analytics suggest that Telegram recorded around 2.2 million downloads in the same period. Further analyses indicate that New Installation of WhatsApp declined by 11 percent in the first week of 2021 if you compare it to the previous week. Still, WhatsApp recorded an average of 10.5 million downloads worldwide.

Users should look at the new policies as a supplementary indication of WhatsApp integration into Facebook Inc. In 2019, CEO Mark Zuckerberg publicized his ambitions to cross-integrate WhatsApp, Instagram, and Facebook Messenger, naming it as interoperability. For instance, the company is seeking to integrate Facebook Messenger and Instagram Direct Messages. Generally, Facebook is working on developing additional features for WhatsApp; like they recently introduced the Rooms feature.

According to the updated privacy policy, WhatsApp will not store messages. The company’s servers will delete the messages once it delivers them. It will only store messages that do not get to the intended destination immediately.

In such a case, the app will store the message in its server, which features privacy encryption for up to 30 days. If the message does not get to the intended destination within 30 days, the server will delete it automatically.

The updated privacy policy elucidates how independent companies can access data from their target audience once they interact with them through WhatsApp. It explains further that the content it accesses will be available to particular people in the company. It would be best to mention that something similar happened to companies such as Twitter and Zoom video in the past. WhatsApp should consider strategizing on how they can solve the challenge at hand.

They must formulate a plan to help re-develop trust among their users by maintaining top-notch privacy policies. Although integrating Facebook and WhatsApp could attract several benefits, it must not violate privacy policies that users feel are right for them. For that reason, the company should consider conducting extensive research on the impact of the new terms of service on its users before stepping forward to implementing further policies. This step will help solve the migration trend that is happening to WhatsApp.

Shafaqna Pakistan

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