Ahead of the Facebook deadline to accept the new terms, I decided to delete my WhatsApp account. Here’s why and what happened next.
…or, in other words, I deleted my WhatsApp, but Facebook has a great ally: peer pressure!
Like many others, I value my privacy. I like to be in control, as much as possible these days, of my data, what’s being used, by whom, and how. Being a citizen of the EU, the GDPR laws are offering some limited protection, but it’s far from ideal. Companies, even though the GDPR prohibits it, oftentimes condition access to certain products, restricting them to only those users who consent to data collection. In other words, you’re all in or you’re left out.
But I digress… This is about WhatsApp, and Facebook’s decision to change the terms and conditions referring to how your WhatsApp data will be shared with Facebook (and eventually, third parties advertising or simply present on the platform). Like many other companies, if you don’t consent by May 15, you will slowly lose the ability to use WhatsApp. Initially, with some restrictions and limited functionality, eventually altogether.
I deleted my WhatsApp account
Sure, I have an online presence on various social media, including Twitter, and I also have a Facebook Page, but that’s related to my job, my professional life, and I only share stuff about myself that’s tied directly to what I’ve been doing for 15 years now.
When it comes to my private life, I keep it as private as I can, with no social media presence. I’ve got no Facebook, no Instagram, no Snapchat. You know what I mean.
And, no, I don’t want WhatsApp (or any other company) to use my data for monetary purposes. I don’t want Facebook to know my mobile number, and, since WhatsApp also collects all of your contacts’ phone numbers, I don’t want WhatsApp to share those with Facebook (and then further with third parties) either. So I went ahead and deleted my WhatsApp account.
This is what happened after I deleted my WhatsApp account
I started informing the people I usually keep in touch with of my decision, and the reasons behind it. That is, to protect my, and their data. I told them I migrate to Signal, which is much more private and secure than WhatsApp. While I don’t expect people to follow my lead, I did expect a lot less ignorance on their end.
“Well, I guess we won’t be talking anymore, then” was the most common reply. Which begs the question: how much are we, as members of society, willing to pay, or give up, in order to follow a herd mentality? Everyone’s on WhatsApp, so I’m OK with giving up my data just to belong to the same group, with the same mentality. That argument won’t fly with me.
Won’t give you my number but I’ll give it to Facebook
And it’s not just WhatsApp. You see, there’s a trend going on. Bear with me for a second. When I ask someone for their phone number, I oftentimes have the following conversation:
- “Hey, what’s your number? Let’s catch up some time!”
- “DM me on Instagram. We’ll talk there!”
- “Well, I don’t have Instagram.”
- “Message me on Facebook.”
- “I don’t have Facebook either.”
- “Well, I guess we won’t talk, then…” (insert real-life eye-roll emoji)
So let me get this straight: you’re not giving me your phone number, but you’re OK with tech giants selling it to third parties for profit? You won’t give out your number to a handful of real-life people, but you’re OK with it being traded, alongside many of your other details? That seems like a good decision…
The “old” tech
Like a good magician, social media captured all of our attention, to the point we were no longer paying attention to the old tech, like SMS. While we were busy WhatsApp-ing, Facebook-ing, DM-ing, and so on, SMS evolved to the point where you can almost literally get the same functionality.
But nobody uses SMS anymore. About the only texts I get are from my banks, and when a bill is due.
The same goes for good old-fashioned phone calls. I can’t even remember the last time I was on a regular phone call. Maybe when I talk to my grandma. It’s always a WhatsApp call, a Messenger call, a Telegram call. All these apps allow you to talk to your friends while getting access to your data, while the good old phone call just sits there like an abandoned puppy.
I digress again…
Well, I’ll be on Signal, if any of my friends want to join, I’ll be waiting. Hopefully, more and more people will realize the trade-off and will take their privacy more seriously. “I don’t mind companies gaining access, I have nothing to hide” was one of the arguments I got back. “Well, you don’t have a body in your closet or drugs underneath your bed, so why do you lock up your apartment if you have nothing to hide”, I replied back. Silence followed.
I want to start no revolution here. The beauty of the world we’re living in is that everyone is able to decide for themselves. I am just trying to raise some awareness, because, once something is online, it stays there forever, and you never know when it can pop up and bite you in the rear.
Drop us a comment and tell us how you feel about your privacy, your data, and what are you willing to pay, or give up, in order to use certain apps or services?
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