WhatsApp Updates its Privacy Policy, and Millions Switch to Telegram

WhatsApp Updates its Privacy Policy, and Millions Switch to Telegram

By Yehudit Garmaise

    On Jan. 4, WhatsApp forced its 2 billion users to agree to a new “privacy policy” that many fear, ironically, will result in less privacy.

    However, after fielding many questions and complaints, and millions of users decamped to Telegram, last night WhatsApp posted a not very clarifying message about its new policy.  

    “We want to be clear that the policy update does not affect the privacy of your messages with friends or family in any way,” WhatsApp said as it tried to reassure, but then the app confused matters further when it said:

    “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," without elaborating on the app's new practices of collecting and using data.

    Many users are under the impression that WhatsApp reserves the right to share the data it collects about users with the larger Facebook network, which includes Instagram, regardless of whether users have other profiles or accounts with other social media sites.

   However, in its statement last night, WhatsApp said that it “does not share users’ contacts with Facebook” and that “WhatsApp groups remain private.”

   In addition, WhatsApp said that it “cannot see your private messages or hear your calls, and neither can Facebook.”

    As is the case with all social media websites, users should keep in mind, of course, by sharing information on WhatsApp, users provide information about themselves that is then sold to other companies.

   Although WhatsApp claims in its statement that commitment to privacy is “in its DNA,” India Today reported that WhatsApp’s updated policy informs users that the app collects data on user activity, such “how they use WhatsApp, their service settings, how they interact with other users, how much time they spend on the app and even the duration in which they use WhatsApp.” 

    In response to WhatsApp new mandatory data-sharing, millions of WhatsApp users decamped overnight to the Telegram, which is a messaging system that Pavel Durov created in August 2013.

     In fact, Durov confirmed his personal Telegram channel, @Durov, that in the first week of January, when WhatsApp launched its new mandatory data sharing with Facebook, that “Telegram surpassed 500 million monthly active users. After that it kept growing: 25 million new users joined Telegram in the last 72 hours alone.”

    Durov also shared that the recently joined users of Telegram are joining the messaging system from all over the world.

    “These new users came from across the globe – 38% from Asia, 27% from Europe, 21% from Latin America and 8% from MENA [an acronym referring to the Middle East and North Africa],” Durov wrote.

   But before messaging users feel too comfortable using Telegram, in previous posts, Durov had also mentioned ways that, when Telegram has gathered 500 users, which it now has, he will further monetize the app, such as bringing ads to large groups and channels on the platform and offering premium paid features for businesses and other frequent users.

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