WhatsApp’s Clarification Fails To Impress India Inc As They ‘Signal’ A Switch

WhatsApp’s Clarification Fails To Impress Indian inc As They ‘Signal’ A Switch
WhatsApp’s Clarification Fails To Impress Indian inc As They ‘Signal’ A Switch

It seems that not many people are impressed with WhatsApp’s clarification on its privacy policy. The company, in its full-page ads in most of the mainstream newspapers tried to clarify its new policies, but people appear to have decided that they want to migrate to WhatsApp’s rivals, Telegram and Signal.

The Facebook-owned messaging app said, “Respect for your privacy is coded into our DNA”. But, it has failed to win trust of millions of Indian users, who had their family groups on the app.

WhatsApp clarified many times that the new policy update does not affect the privacy of people’s messages with friends or family in any way. Instead, this update includes changes related to messaging a business on WhatsApp, which is optional, and provides further transparency about how we collect and use data.

And due to end-to-end encryption WhatsApp cannot see private messages or hear calls and neither can Facebook. Every private message, photo, video, voice message and document you send your friends, family and co-workers in one-on-one or group chats is protected by it (end to end encryption).

“WhatsApp cannot see your shared location and neither can Facebook.” 

And when it comes to “group privacy” WhatsApp said it remains private. We don’t share this data with Facebook for ads purposes. Again, these private chats are end-to-end encrypted so we can’t see their content.

Screenshots of such ads were fluttering on various social media platforms.

Last week, WhatsApp informed users of an update on its new privacy policy and partnered with Facebook to offer integration across the social media giant’s products. According to it, users would have to agree to the new terms and policy by February 8 in order to continue using WhatsApp.

This move by the company created uproar among people as well as businesses. 

Some CEOs and business owners also criticized and asked people and their employees to switch to Signal or Telegram.

PayTm founder Vijay Shekhar Sharma is among those who commented on the newspaper ads and criticized WhatsApps “blatant double standards”.

 “Battery level, signal strength, app version, browser information, mobile network, connection information (including phone number, mobile operator or ISP), language and time zone, IP address, device operations information, and identifiers (including identifiers unique to Facebook Company Products associated with the same device or account),” is the set of information that is to be allegedly shared with Facebook.

This problem is still not solved and the customers are tired of being in a situation of their data being shared with others or not. The surety has never been there. So how can people believe all these ads?

Amit Singh, CEO of IoT-based telecom service provider Teliolabs said, “We have switched to Signal and would be moving our office groups to it owing to the recent privacy changes in WhatsApp. These new policies threaten the data security and may compromise company secrets of a business in future, for individuals there is a possibility that we may start getting targeted advertisement based on our chat topics and discussions.”

Not only Teliolabs, Thrust Classroom, which is still in its very early stages of business, has a small team of just 12 people and they have also decided to switch to Signal.

 “WhatsApp stores the IP address and other user information on the server, while Signal only stores phone numbers,” said Piyush Shukla, Co-founder, Thrust Classroom.

This is probably the best time for Signal to grow like never before by just capitalising on the data privacy.

However, for many people and businesses shifting to a completely new app right away or in the future is perhaps not a good option.

For instance, for Cred’s Kunal Shah, “Trying to leave WhatsApp is as futile as adopting a new language to communicate between the same folks. Feels cool for the first 7 days like the first week of a new year at the gym,” he tweeted on Sunday. For him, “Signal or Telegram won’t win unless it’s Delta 4 to WhatsApp. Network effects are like a religion. Most people like to stay in what they were born in. Social media has shelf life as people like to move to cooler places but messengers are not a product to display status.”

The richest person in the world, Elon Musk also asked his followers to use “Signal”.

Businesses just don’t want to risk their data in any manner because this might cost them their clients or customers. Companies like MTap Technologies, which offers location-based transportation services to businesses, is in fact also reviewing Signal periodically for any data leakage.

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