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Updated policy results in mass exodus of WhatsApp users

The issue tends not to be security of the contents of messages, but that of one’s personal data: Arthur Goldstuck, World Wide Worx.

DUDU RAMELA: Come February 8, if you have not accepted WhatsApp’s new terms and conditions you’ll have to delete the app. That’s because you’ve been given an ultimatum – whether to take it or leave it. Let’s find out what exactly is contained in these new rules and regulations that WhatsApp wants you to play with. We’re joined by Arthur Goldstuck, CEO of World Wide Worx. Always a pleasure, Arthur. What is it that one needs to know to make an informed decision about whether to stay or to go?

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ARTHUR GOLDSTUCK: Thank you, Dudu. The first thing to know is that, if you do go, it means that you won’t be able to keep in contact with the majority of your connections – family, friends, contacts – using WhatsApp as the main communication channel. If you use email primarily, if you use SMS or voice, or even Facebook Messenger for that matter, you’ll find that WhatsApp in South Africa is used by more than half the population. So you’ve got to consider that before looking at all the other issues.

There are two main issues that people are concerned about. The one is that people think this means Facebook would have access to the content of the chat – and that’s not true. Facebook cannot access the content of any WhatsApp chat because it’s encrypted. There are exceptions if you’re involved in criminal activity, or [authorities] believe that you’re a suspect or a person of interest in a terrorism case. Then they have the right to use various tools and techniques to access those messages. But besides those extreme circumstances, the contents of your messaging are completely secure.

The real issue here is that they are going to allow Facebook and WhatsApp to combine information about usage of the apps and your smartphone. So if you use WhatsApp, for example, it automatically has access to your entire contacts list. And, in effect, that’s what Facebook is telling you to share – from WhatsApp to Facebook – so they can target you more accurately based on how many people you are in touch with, what kinds of communication you have with those people, not what’s in it. But the fact that you are involved in video communication, for example, could be used to target advertising at you.

But, generally speaking, they can access your location data, the speed of your phone, or the battery level of your phone, to tell you are the kind of person who often lets your phone run down, for example, or who your real mobile operator is. All of that kind of information starts adding up to create a profile that allows their advertisers to target you more precisely.

DUDU RAMELA: Is it just WhatsApp, or are there plenty of other applications that actually do this? Does it really matter?

ARTHUR GOLDSTUCK: If you consider the extent to which you’ve been giving permission to Google over the years, then you could say that it actually doesn’t make a difference because, if you use an Android phone, really Google has access to all your phone information and your current behaviour – not the contents, but certainly the activity. And then if you combine that with Google Search, for example, and Gmail and Google Maps and YouTube, suddenly they have a vast picture of who you are, what you search for, and what you buy. That is where you’ve really given up your privacy. So it’s actually the same situation that applies now with Facebook and WhatsApp and Instagram, combining all the data on you so they start taking a big picture.  So, to avoid that, you’ve actually got to go to a completely independent messaging app.

DUDU RAMELA: Facebook has been hacked on a number of occasions. A lot of people are also worried about privacy in terms of security.

ARTHUR GOLDSTUCK: Security of the contents of your messages tends not to be an issue. It’s the security of your personal data that becomes an issue. Facebook hasn’t plugged the hole that allowed hackers, for example, to send you a link pretending, for example, that it’s a video that includes something about you, or something embarrassing about you. You click on that link and what you really do is give permission to access your account, and that then starts giving access to deeper levels of information about you.

Ultimately they’re looking for bank-account information and the ability to access your financial data as well as the actual money.

DUDU RAMELA: What are the alternatives?

ARTHUR GOLDSTUCK: Of two alternatives on the market at the moment the best known one is Telegram, which was started by Russian developers and in fact is not what you might call a pro-Russian app, because the Russian authorities banned it for two years because they refused to co-operate with them. That is perhaps the most widely used of the more secure apps. It doesn’t share your information with any other application, so it doesn’t allow any advertisers to build up a profile about you. You also have a desktop version of it, for example. So that’s a little trick that WhatsApp introduced not too long ago.

The other big one is Signal. Signal was developed by, among others, the person who created WhatsApp, so he understands what it takes to create this kind of application, but also what the issues were. The reason that he left Facebook was because he disagreed with the direction of WhatsApp. And Signal is partly in response to that.

So Signal is probably the most secure and the least likely to share your information or make your information available to any other application.

DUDU RAMELA: Who is regulating all of these social media platforms in terms of making sure that users’ data is not abused, if you will.

ARTHUR GOLDSTUCK: Here is the real problem. Regulators have been asleep at the wheel, because it’s technology and regulators tend to be the establishment’s real old-timers, even running governments around the world. They tend to have the courts behind the times in terms of the significance of these apps and also how widespread their use is. Only now, for example, are American antitrust authorities starting to look at the issue of whether Facebook should be allowed to integrate Instagram into its services. Because Instagram goes way back to 2011, at that stage the transaction was approved because the regulators had no idea of its significance.

The same with WhatsApp in 2014. So Facebook is now arguing, hey, this is a moot issue because you already gave us approval back then. The difference is back then they had no idea of the extent to which so much information could be aggregated across all of these apps.

DUDU RAMELA: Interesting. It’s got a lot of people talking, and we’ll see what actually happens come February 8, whether people will leave or stay with WhatsApp. Thank you very much, Arthur Goldstuck, CEO of World Wide Worx.

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I cannot understand the hype (and why only now) concerning WA, being that data-sharing (and selling of data to advertisers) has been there for years. (Media articles is playing us, scaring us for the sake of reader volume = advertising revenue / clicks.

WhatsApp may share the most about your behaviour, but it’s merely a matter of time before Telegram to do the same (after they gathered enough membership clout to monetize. Nothing is for free.

The world has moved along since the (more primitive) days of your friendly commercial bank sharing your information to their tied broker/financial advisor in their branch for the purpose of product cross-selling. And few was up in arms. This was the forerunner of what you have today in cyber space.

When you accept “cookies” on visited websites….you share certain info.

When you use (free) VPN’s, your information gets sold by the host-provider for advertising revenue.

When you use your Gmail, your info gets sold.

It won’t help running away from WhatsApp, your info will still gets shared in cyber space. If one is so paranoid about privacy, then get completely off the web: close your online banking; throw away your smartphone; cease any online shopping, don your bank cards, and make cash withdrawals on a bank withdrawal-slip instead 😉
…and please, do not “share” this message: instead take glue, stick it on a piece of paper…then make photocopies…and distribute it by hand (or use the SA Post Office).

Signal being non-profit (relying on donations, like Wiki) could be the safer bet. They almost share nothing, albeit your phone number (…but that is NOW, things may change)

If you simply have to change, try Signal or Viber (more secure than Telegram). But honestly, no harm in keeping WhatsApp…

Why are we so afraid of “targeted advertising”? Isn’t it a way better to see ads on a web-page of things YOU are mostly interested in? (…as opposed to irrelevant junk ads popping up)
If a call centre phones you out of the blue, isn’t it more convenient to be phoned about things you’re actually interested in buying? This is way more convenient.

Or do we prefer to be bombarded by irrelevant junk ads we’re not interested in? Or never asked for, and not having time to discuss nonsense.

I think you make some valid points in your argument, however in this entire scenario nobody is asking the user of the application as to whether they consent to this methodology of information collecting. To me the information is being obtained by stealth and it is an invasion of my privacy – there are many people who don’t want to be bombarded with advertorials constantly and very few give you the opportunity to switch advertorials off

Just watch the Documentary “the Social Dilemma”. It is a must!

I sense a challenge between Musk and Zuckerberg, or all four including Bezos and Cook also.

I agree with you in that why all the hype all of a sudden. Read the Snowden Story and it is alleged that governments have been collecting our Data for years. You also have to ask why Whatsapp and FB.

Although you mention that it is media driven for revenue, maybe it is also because these specific platforms are an easy target. Drawing from my own experience (not a FB user) maybe the reason for this is that almost every day there is an immediate and very local (unlike twitter for example) problem (which takes a lot of work to sort out) created by people using these platforms eg. the noisy neighbour, toxic personal behaviour on FB such as hate speech, people creating family issues, the fake posts and the fake self promotion done deliberately to — others off, etc. etc.. (most of these problems in most cases will never be a problem if these platforms were not around). Maybe FB and WA are being targeted because they have such a bad reputation. FB and specifically Zuckerberg have known from the start this dark side of FB but choose to do very little in case it reduces the number of users i.e. revenue.

I know some will reply with comparing to a firearm and the person i.e. it is not the gun it is the person pulling the trigger. FB should invest a small part of the Billions of $’s they earn to study the effect they are having on mental health and how to lessen this unless they already have and have not done anything about it. They seem to spend enough on trying to understand our spending patterns and behaviour.

For me, the reasons I have left both Facebook and WhatsApp is because of 1.) Facebooks censorship of free speech and 2.) the size of the monster. The more power it gets the more corruption will follow.

Let us keep in mind where we come from. When we used smoke signals as an innovative means of communication it was open to everybody to see. They had your position as well. Then things progressed to the pigeon. That was a lot more secure but anybody with a shotgun could intercept your secure message. The next innovation was the signal cannon on the hills across the Western Cape. Everyone could hear your most personal cannon shot and they could immediately respond by sending products to the market to compete with you.

Considering where we came from, I don’t mind losing confidentiality with my Whatsapp. Between me and you, I only recently got the hang of WhatsApp. It took my children 6 months to explain to me what an app is. Do you see? Einstein was right. It is all relative.

I had such a good laugh now! Very true indeed! (and remember those rural telephone lines where everyone on the same line could listen in to your conversation)
I sometimes wonder why those worried about privacy are on social media in the first place.

If you got the hang of WhatsApp, you’ll pretty much use Signal quite easily.

“But, generally speaking, they can access your location data, the speed of your phone, or the battery level of your phone, to tell you are the kind of person who often lets your phone run down, for example, or who your real mobile operator is. All of that kind of information starts adding up to create a profile that allows their advertisers to target you more precisely.
I AM SURE that’s all they want??????????????????????????????????????????
I think the 5G is working

They also can read everything you send

Even if it is true why would “they” be interested in all the inane drivel people put on WA and other social media?? It will take them months if not years to read a fraction of the daily messages.Any case -who cares if they can read it.

They imbed their searches with keywords thus they don’t have to scroll through reams of drivel

Exactly. When they share our metadata (not message content) for targeted advertising revenue purposes…as you said, SO WHAT?

They’re not interested in my or your mundane lives, out of ALL the 7bn people on the planet.

People are so easily and unnecessarily paranoid.

@Black Tin. NOPE, they cannot. It’s end-to-end encrypted.

WA / Signal / Telegram / Viber do NOT have access to everyone’s message CONTENT (be it narrative, a voice note, or a doc attachment or image).

They only use our metadata (to try and determine our interests and online behaviour to try and sell it to advertisers).

Michael…I seldom update Whatsapp on my phone. Last update was July last year
Privacy policy reads “Respect for your privacy is coded into our DNA..”
I think the “new” Privacy policy has changed
This could be why people are “done” with FB

Signal is open source…relying on donations. One can download ths api code and analyse to see if changes contrary to its statement on privacy and what is scouped. Not the case with Whatsapp

WHATSAPP / FACEBOOK … APPS deleted!

Everyone will migrate. Not to worry.

This is the end of Whatsapp!

SIGNAL and TELEGRAM … Downloaded.

Telegram started in Russia with Russian developers. Are you sure you trust them more?

Russian developers?

Let me remind you that Russia has very good free education (including free university education).

Russia also has an abundance of very highly educated professionals, maybe better and more than Germany, France, UK or the USA.

Larry Ellison (creator of the Oracle Corp. and ex. Ceo) was raised by his Russian grand parents in the USA.

Also, look at Russia’s space and military industries (miles ahead of everyone else)

@DragonX. Telegram is LESS SAFE. It’s not end-to-end encrypted, per default.

Yeah sure, everyone are fools if they think the Russians won’t sell their subscribers’ metadata to advertisers, eventually.

Then we run again to other apps.

Viber or Signal is better, if you must move.

OH … an APPLE is also forcing FACEBOOK to comply to its new user policy is IOS14.

Says ALOT!

FACEBOOK have to comply … thats why they going after Whatsapp.

I prefer to trust APPLE.

…so Apple does not share your information? *lol*

Seriously, remember the day you got your current smartphone, and during the set-up process that was a phone UI prompt (be it from Apple, Huawei, Samsung, etc) to give permission to “share” your information.

At that starting point one’s privacy was given away.

Am sorry to hear about your paranoia condition. Some people are more susceptible to conspiracy theories than others 😉

Just watch the Documentary “the Social Dilemma”, if you want to know which direction the worlds problems are heading towards… The tech industry, as fantastic as they may seem, are starting to show deeply concerning consequences that impact our mental health.

….I am sorry to hear about your paranoia condition. Some people are more susceptible to conspiracy theories than others

conspiracy theory? entertain me please with your thoughts then?

Anything that doesn’t suite the lame stream media’s narrative, is apparently a conspiracy theory.

A phrase designed after the JFK assassination to discredit anybody who doesn’t agree with the main stream narrative.

The more any organisation that has your personal information involves and engages itself with the internet the less secure your personal information becomes.
The security services of most nations have carte blanch access to any information they desire. The excuse of terrorism was created by purpose made false flag operations. The main customers are the ruling politiicans seeking to stir up dirt on opponents and having unwanted information about themselves removed and prevented.
Social media and usurped main stream media are intent on controlling the narrative by silencing the truth and promoting blatant lies.
The more the indoctrinated-from-birth people suck it all up the more incessant and ludicrous and dangerous it all becomes.

Whilst logged in my comment appears. When logged out it disappears.
Maybe this is how big brother uses his secret service training with the CIA?

COMMENT APPROVED
12 JANUARY 2021 @ 1:07 PM
The more any organisation that has your personal information involves and engages itself with the internet the less secure your personal information becomes.
The security services of most nations have carte blanch access to any information they desire. The excuse of terrorism was created by purpose made false flag operations. The main customers are the ruling politiicans seeking to stir up dirt on opponents and having unwanted information about themselves removed and prevented.
Social media and usurped main stream media are intent on controlling the narrative by silencing the truth and promoting blatant lies.
The more the indoctrinated-from-birth people suck it all up the more incessant and ludicrous and dangerous it all becomes.

Comment on story: Updated policy results in mass exodus of WhatsApp users

LOL….just switch off your pc and use the Post Office. All systems read your data.

Thank you DeonK. At least one person that is not paranoid. Or not susceptible to conspiracy theories.

People confuse the actual message content (which is encrypted) with shared ‘metadata’.

Yes, metadata collection has been there since the early days of the web. Those too paranoid, should “share” a message by writing it on a piece of paper, glue it to an A4 sheet, and make photocopies. And then hand-deliver it….

Calm down MfK, people have the choice to continue using WA or not. No need to get so defensive.

Big tech has way to much power and that is because of the monopoly they have. It’s time for more players in the market. I support the cancellation of WhatsApp purely to check their power.

Certainly not defending WA, as some would accuse me of. I also appreciate that healthy competition against the Facebook media giant, is welcomed (to keep it in check).

I’m merely amazed at WHY NOW the outcry, as WA has been collecting data for years now. And if they give an ultimatum to users, SO WHAT…if you accept, the same old data-sharing will continue. What Facebook is saying now…it’s high time for us to make profit out of WA.

And I have stated multiple times, saying SIGNAL (or even Viber) is better than Telegram…if you’re hell-bent on dumping WA.

Here’s some sobering video / further reads:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gwgFiKcpyWc

Take note if you’re on Telegram:

https://www.capetalk.co.za/articles/405909/whatsapp-alternative-telegram-is-a-hotbed-of-horrific-pornography

We maybe running into a worse, less secure alternative, Telegram. There’s many alternatives besides Signal or Telegram, and it will get more. Soon we’ll have 20 messenger apps on our phones…utter chaos. Could the future be a step backwards? Possibly.

The challenge will now be for those who migrate to get there whole contact list on the app they are using. You will find that going forward your contact list is going to get shorter. It is impractical to run both Telegram and Signal let alone also still WhatsApp. So now I get notices from some friend migrating to Signal and some to Telegram. I am going to miss them. You are anyway already compromised using Google.

End of comments.

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