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Why millions are abandoning WhatsApp for rivals Telegram and Signal

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Millions of WhatsApp users have taken the drastic step of abandoning the app ahead of a privacy policy update that will force them to share their data with Facebook.

The update, which will be released on February 8, affects WhatsApp users in all countries outside of Europe and the UK, where there are strict data protection laws.

Users in these regions will be required to give their consent for Facebook to access their data, including their phone numbers and information about how they interact with others, in order to continue using the app.

The requirement will apply regardless of whether or not the WhatsApp user has a Facebook account.

The news has led many people to jump ship to rival apps, according to data from Sensor Tower.

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When the privacy policy changes were announced on January 7, Telegram picked up nearly 1.7 million downloads and Signal gained 1.2 million downloads, while WhatsApp, which usually dominates, gained just 1.3 million downloads.

WhatsApp installations also fell approximately 13 per cent to 10.3 million downloads in the first seven days of January, compared to the seven days prior.

WhatsApp first alerted users to the new privacy policy changes in a notification last week.

The privacy policy explains: ‘As part of the Facebook Companies, WhatsApp receives information from, and shares information with, the other Facebook Companies.

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‘We may use the information we receive from them, and they may use the information we share with them, to help operate, provide, improve, understand, customise, support, and market our Services and their offerings, including the Facebook Company Products.’

Essentially, this means Facebook will now be able to access account information including your phone number, information on how you interact with other users, and logs of how often and how long you use WhatsApp.

Other data that could be shared with Facebook includes your IP address, browser details, language and time zone.

WhatsApp was acquired by Facebook in 2014, and has shared data with its parent company since 2016.

Whatsapp offered a one-time opt-out for data sharing in 2016, but now users are being forced to agree to the privacy policy to continue using the app.

Many angry WhatsApp users have taken to Twitter to announce their departure from the app, in light of the new privacy policy.

One said: ‘I’ve just deleted Whats App and Instagram from my phone because their new terms and conditions freak me out.’

Another wrote: ‘I deleted my WhatsApp last week. I definitely lost some contacts, and that sucks, but I’ve come to see FB as a criminal enterprise; I can’t afford to give them access to my data.’

And one added: ‘Deleted my WhatsApp today. I’ve been using Signal for a while and think it’s brilliant. hope y’all will join me over there!’

According to App Annie, WhatsApp’s ranking in both the UK and US has fallen following the news.

In the US, WhatsApp is now ranked number 38 in the download charts, while it is number 10 in the UK – significantly lower than normal.

In contrast, both Telegram and Signal have risen up the ranks, and are now numbers 13 and one in the UK download charts, respectively.

Jake Moore, Cybersecurity Specialist at ESET said it was no surprise that many users were deleting WhatsApp following the privacy policy update.

‘Being told that the app is unavailable unless you agree may not always be the best way as people then feel forced to giving away their data,’ he said.

‘We may even see people move away from these apps to more privacy-focused apps which more delicately protect our data.

‘It is incredibly important that users do all they can to protect their private information, and they must realise how damaging it can be if it gets into the wrong hands.’

 

What to do if WhatsApp stops working on your phone from 2021

 

Source: Daily Mail

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