Why I don't use WhatsApp?

A dilemma of choosing privacy over convenience

     4 minutes to read

So from the last couple of years, I've been coming on and off on WhatsApp. Many of you asked me why I am doing so? Most of the time I resisted answering the question because I never actually been able to phrase the answer correctly. While I am not on other social platforms (specifically owned by Facebook) either, not being on WhatsApp is something matters for me and others.

If someone is not on WhatsApp even after having a smartphone raises suspicious eyes on the person as if he has committed a crime. I've experienced those rolling eyes (😒) emoticons in real life. Many think that his personal life is gotten worse and I can't handle being on WhatsApp or want to hide from some unintentional conversations. While a percentage of this is true in my case, this is why I am not on WhatsApp:

Mobile number as an identifier: #

I don't like the idea of linking the mobile number to a social profile. The mobile number used online is like a social security number (or Aadhaar number) if used on multiple services. It can be used to create a profile of a person with various information like political views, likes, and dislikes which is later used to target specific ads to the person and trick or confuse them about their opinions.

Privacy and Security: #

I care about what I share online and am very skeptical when I use any new service on the cloud. As we're already aware of Facebook harvesting some data from WhatsApp for their profiling and targeted advertising we're not assured of privacy. It is clear that WhatsApp is collecting information about their users which could provide insight into policy, connections, conversation participants, frequency and even geolocation data. Some of this data we could classify as metadata and some of it is frankly just data – but valuable data nonetheless.

Facebook’s Data Sharing Policies: #

In May 2016, WhatsApp changed its privacy policies and terms of service while outlining that it shares a controlled amount of users’ data with Facebook to develop targeted advertising. Providing opt-out solution gave WhatsApp a safe passage to get out of the privacy debate that recently defaced Facebook amid the Cambridge Analytica debacle.

Too Much Communication: #

Group chats could be a total menace, especially if it’s a workgroup where colleagues frequently take a detour from what was originally thought will be the purpose for the group chat. The continuous inflow of group chat notifications, even after you mute the group ‘for a year’ doesn’t help you many times. Eventually, you will have to check the group to see what went into the ‘informal’ discussion. Quitting the group after such annoyance can also lead people to hold minor grudges against you.

Status Stories: #

The Status Stories feature is the worst update ever received on that platform. Just after that, it became what Facebook is as a social media. While I was not being bothered by it, I didn't like it having it on the app.

In other words, I liked WhatsApp when it was a separate entity or until when it announced that it is going to unify its chats on all the platforms.

Some might say who am I to care so much about privacy? I'd say choosing privacy is our right, In this world where everything is connected to the internet, it's not safe to share everything everywhere. It’s just not a viable option anymore. Additionally, not everyone is tech-savvy nor time rich to be exploring methods of incognito internet usage. This is something should be taught from an early age to the new generation.

If you are not paying for it, you're not the customer; you're the product being sold - Andrew Lewis

It's not like I've quit being on instant messaging services, I just switched to Telegram which is the next popular after WhatsApp but I trust. You can find me at @surajjadhv on Telegram. There are other options available also but a lot of people I know are already on Telegram and are onboarding every day.


Suraj Jadhav

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