Don’t Use WhatsApp

Born in 1993, I grew up as a teenager using ICQ – the instant messaging service of AOL. With the rise of the smartphone it was WhatsApp which slowly replaced all desktop messaging services like ICQ, MSN, and Skype. With WhatsApp having over 2 Billion active users, I was definitely one of the early adopters of the messenger which once costed €0,99/year.

As much as I loved WhatsApp as a messaging application – founded by Brian Acton and Jan Koum in 2009 – I was utterly smashed to see it being sold to Facebook in 2014 for US$ 19.3 billion. WhatsApp, a service previously focused on simple and easy communication with privacy as a basis did now belong to a mega conglomerate with no big glory for privacy.

I still remember the day the acquisition of WhatsApp was announced. I sat in the car with three other friends, and we decided to look for an alternative. An alternative with the same ease of use but not belonging to a large corporation. In other words: an alternative messaging service with privacy and users coming first.
We downloaded dozens of apps, created an account, and tried them all out. We settled with one app: Telegram.

Today I solely use Telegram for instant messaging. I deleted WhatsApp entirely from my phone, and here are some reasons why you should do so too.

Reasons Why You Should Not Use WhatsApp

  • The founder of WhatsApp – Brian Acton – tweeted on March 21st 2018: “It is time. #deletefacebook” [1]
  • WhatsApp is forced to disclosed encrypted messages to authorities [2]
  • Brian Acton admits: “I sold my users’ privacy to a larger benefit. I made a choice and a compromise. And I live with that every day.” [3]
  • Jan Koum left Facebook over data privacy issues. [4]
  • WhatsApp had a security issue with the way it handles video which allowed hackers to take control of your phone [5]
  • WhatsApp commits major security errors on a regular basis, which are suitable for surveillance [6]
  • Jeff Bezos, the richest man in the world, has been hacked due to WhatsApp’s security flaws [7]
  • Facebook is collaborating with the NSA and FBI [8]
  • WhatsApp was used to target 100 journalists and dissidents [9]
  • United Nations officials are banned from using WhatsApp [10]
  • WhatsApp disclosed 12 security flaws in 2019, including 7 classified as “critical” [11]
  • EU Commission orders staff to switch from WhatsApp to Signal [12]
  • Facebook’s executives proposed to weakening its encryption to enable easier access for businesses [13]
  • Facebook is “the biggest surveillance-based enterprise in history” [14]
  • WhatsApp ranked worst for user’s data privacy in internet snooping report [15]
  • WhatsApp messages are stored unencrypted on iCloud or Google Drive [16]
  • Telegram is banned in countries like Russia and Iran while WhatsApp is freely available [17]

What are the alternatives?
I recommend Telegram and Signal.

Sources

[1] https://twitter.com/brianacton/
[2] https://www.thetimes.co.uk/article/police-can-access-suspects-facebook-and-whatsapp-messages-in-deal-with-us-q7lrfmchz
[3] https://www.forbes.com/sites/parmyolson/2018/09/26/exclusive-whatsapp-cofounder-brian-acton-gives-the-inside-story-on-deletefacebook-and-why-he-left-850-million-behind/#65c5c2af3f20
[4] https://twitter.com/superwuster/status/991138650078498817
[5] https://www.techspot.com/news/82843-hackers-can-use-whatsapp-flaw-way-handles-video.html
[5] https://www.zdnet.com/article/attackers-using-whatsapp-vulnerability-triggered-by-video-files-can-remotely-execute-code/
[6] https://www.independent.co.uk/life-style/gadgets-and-tech/news/whatsapp-surveillance-privacy-telegram-pavel-durov-facebook-a9211151.html
[7] https://www.popularmechanics.com/technology/security/a30666361/jeff-bezos-whatsapp-hack/
[8] https://eu.usatoday.com/story/news/2013/06/06/nsa-surveillance-internet-companies/2398345/
[9] https://www.ft.com/content/67a5b442-f971-11e9-a354-36acbbb0d9b6
[10] https://www.reuters.com/article/us-un-whatsapp/u-n-says-officials-barred-from-using-whatsapp-since-june-2019-over-security-idUSKBN1ZM32P
[11] https://www.businessinsider.fr/us/jeff-bezos-hack-whatsapp-disclosed-security-flaws-last-year-ft-2020-1
[12] https://www.politico.eu/article/eu-commission-to-staff-switch-to-signal-messaging-app/
[13] https://daringfireball.net/linked/2018/04/30/koum-whatsapp-facebook
[14] https://daringfireball.net/linked/2017/09/06/lanchester-facebook
[15] https://www.independent.co.uk/life-style/gadgets-and-tech/news/whatsapp-ranked-worst-for-users-data-privacy-in-internet-snooping-report-10328539.html
[16] https://slate.com/technology/2018/06/paul-manafort-how-did-fbi-access-whatsapp-messages.html
[17] https://www.nytimes.com/2018/05/02/world/europe/telegram-iran-russia.html

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