Whatsapp steals data delete Whatsapp

Why millions are deleting WhatsApp – you should too!

Monday 18 January, 2021

Billions of people around the world use WhatsApp as a major part of their communications with friends, colleagues and associates. The majority of users will be completely unaware about the huge amount of data that is being shared by WhatsApp across to other platforms like Facebook and Instagram and the risks this poses to their privacy. 

What Data is linked to you by WhatsApp?

In a recent change of privacy policy, WhatsApp has removed the user option to not share their data with Facebook and Instagram. The amount of data that is collected by WhatsApp is actually quite large and could be used by other platforms to target you with ads and content. 

For example, did you know that WhatsApp links the following data to you?

  • Location
  • Contact info
  • User and device ID
  • Usage data
  • Purchase history
  • Diagnostic information

Now couple that with any business communications you might use via WhatsApp and you can easily start to see the risks this poses to both personal and professional privacy. 

Why is sharing with Facebook a risk to privacy?

When considering the sharing of data as an assault on privacy, you also need to consider how far and wide that spread will be. Above we can see the data that is linked with WhatsApp, but now consider what happens if it reaches Facebook.

The list of organisations could be huge as Facebook shares the following with Third Party Advertisers alone:

  • Purchase history
  • Financial information
  • Location
  • Contact information including:
    • Physical address
    • Email
    • Name
    • Phone number
    • Other user contact information
  • User content including:
    • Photos and videos
    • Gameplay content
  • Search history
  • Browsing history
  • User and device ID
  • Usage data
  • Diagnostics data

It is worth noting that, under the latest terms and conditions of use, you are not able to opt out from data sharing and still be able to use WhatsApp. 

What can I do about my data privacy?

The best solution is to immediately stop using WhatsApp and change to an alternative that doesn’t share your private information. You must delete WhatsApp to stop sharing your private data.

There are other messaging applications that don’t link as much of your data as WhatsApp, such as Telegram. This does retain some including: Contact information, Contacts and Identifiers. It is worth noting that Telegram group chats are not end-to-end encrypted by default.

Signal, another messaging app doesn’t link any information to you, but it does still collect data on your contact information.

Clearly the safest option would be to use a messaging application that doesn’t collect any data in the first place. 

Here we show the data that Apps share

What data does WhatsApp collect?

This proves exactly what happens with the Silent Phone App on the Blackphone PRIVY. No data is collected from the app and therefore data cannot be harvested, linked or shared.

Click to buy a Silent Phone Licence.

In addition to no data being collected, there are further privacy and security features with the Blackphone PRIVY that will ensure all your communications are safe, these include:

  • End to end encryption
  • Encrypted storage on the Blackphone only (no third-party server)
  • Untraceable device
  • Wiretap secure

We would recommend reading our previous article entitled “Messenger Apps-More insecure than you think!” which looks at the insecurities of Messenger Apps and offer helpful advice on how to stay safe. 

Review your mobile security 

Although we are specifically highlighting the issues around WhatsApp privacy in this article, it is worth noting that, while this is an important element to change, we would also recommend you review and analyse your entire end to end communication security and privacy. 

Your review will need to take into account:

  • The security built in to the hardware itself
  • OS and software security levels
  • The security around network connections, wifi and Bluetooth
  • Storage encryption
  • Third party access to files and data

Another nail in WhatsApp’s coffin 

Only days after the WhatsApp privacy policy change, WhatsApp has succumbed to another embarrassing and completely preventable privacy breach. Private Chat Groups have been indexed within Google search engine results pages. Invite links to private messaging groups as well as some user profiles and mobile phone numbers were visible. This privacy breach has now been fixed by WhatsApp, but given that there was a similar privacy breach in 2020, can WhatsApp be trusted to keep your data safe?

The switch has already started

Since the news broke about the WhatsApp changes, there has been a noticeable uptick in the number of downloads for both Signal and Telegram. 

The numbers switching to Signal and Telegram in the UK, although are not huge, still represent a notable move:

  • UK Signal Downloads – 7,400 the week before the WhatsApp announcement to 191,000 the week after
  • UK Telegram Downloads – 47,000 the week before the WhatsApp announcement to 101,000 the week after

Globally the downloads for Signal were huge. Before the announcement the app was downloaded 246,000 times and this rose to an incredible 8.8 million the week after. 

Telegram already had around 6.5 million downloads the week prior but this rose to a whopping 11 million the following week.

In a further show of support for the switch away from WhatsApp, even Elon Musk has tweeted his support for people to move their communication to Signal. 

As previously mentioned, these two Apps, although providing a better option to WhatsApp with regards to mobile privacy, are still linking some data to you. 

The Silent Circle App on the Blackphone PRIVY does not link any data or information to you, therefore it provides the marketing-leading solution for mobile privacy and security. 

If you would like some assistance conducting your review or would like to discuss further your mobile phone security and privacy needs, then please give our team a call and we will be more than happy to help. 

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