“In some countries, WhatsApp is like oxygen.” – Jan Koum – Co-Founder of WhatsApp

The above quotation is the reason why February 8th is akin to doomsday for millions of people worldwide, a day of reckoning of sorts, as they have to decide by this day. Some of them have decided already and have switched to other messaging apps like Signal and Telegram. WhatsApp’s update of their privacy policy is the big news which everyone is talking about. Even my 6-year-old son is concerned that he won’t be able to talk to his maternal grandparents if I’ll stop using WhatsApp after this date! 

The Problem and the Consequences for WhatsApp

People in different age groups have different concerns, and in the coming weeks, the privacy issue on the Internet will once again be the topic of heated debate. The biggest reason people are switching to another app, like Signal, is privacy, as the forced sharing of their data to Facebook is a big no for everyone. Up till now, it was a voluntary decision so that it wasn’t a problem, but now things have changed for the worst. 

The alternate apps to WhatsApp are already gaining ground, with the Signal leading the pack. Data gathered by app analytics firm Sensor Tower has recorded a 4200% increase on a week on week basis. In just five days after the announcement, Signal was downloaded approximately 7.5 million times. The figure includes Google Play and the App Store. Another factor that led to a deluge of people moving to Signal is last Elon Musk’s tweet.

The sudden increase in Signal download was even surprising for the company too. And due to unprecedented growth and future challenges, it has ramped up hiring and are interested in finding new talent. 

What’s Up for WhatsApp?

“If you get a WhatsApp message, you’re probably going to open it. That’s the interesting thing.” – Harper Reed – American Entrepreneur 

That’s the power of WhatsApp as in many countries, it is a household name for some time now, but with just a privacy policy update, the empire has started to shake. The news of its rivals cashing in is alarming for WhatsApp as it is facing such figures across the world, baring the EU as it will not be affected where such data-sharing is illegal under GDPR. 

Take a look at the chart below to know the features offered by the three most popular apps.

Interestingly, many people who have started using Signal don’t even know basic information about it or the background. Aspects like who owns the Signal and its performance are considered secondary elements now, with everyone seeming to be ditching WhatsApp as soon as possible. Below is a quick snapshot so that you can know how the Signal was formed. 

Signal’s Background Information 

Signal is a cross-platform encrypted messaging service. It was initially released in 2014 by Open Whisper Systems and is a successor to the RedPhone calling app and TextSecure texting program. Founded by Moxie Marlinspike and Stuart Anderson, the app gained momentum after their Signal Foundation received a 50 million dollars initial funding from Brian Acton. Acton, who is one of the founders of WhatsApp, along with Jon Koum, sold it to Facebook in 2014 for approximately 19.3 billion dollars. 

Other characters in the Signal vs. WhatsApp saga like Telegram, Threema, and Wire are also looking to cash-in. Still, Signal remains the biggest beneficiary of this as Telegram is also making giant strides. The Signal review has been tremendous as it also offers end-to-end encryption and other ferrets offered by WhatsApp. 

Latest Developments

After severe backlash, WhatsApp was taken aback, and now it is trying its best to turn the tides in its favor. Recently on its FAQ page, the company clarified that it would not give all your data to Facebook. The sharing of the sensitive profile information was never meant to be, and the update has nothing to do with consumer chats and profile data. At least this is what WhatsApp is claiming, and it will only be after some time that we will know if this statement will benefit WhatsApp in the future. 

This is what WhatsApp claimed on their Twitter account. 

For the time being, it looks like WhatsApp played their cards wrong and now waiting for the move from their competitors. Meanwhile, this is the reply from Telegram as they’re also making a merry at WhatsApp’s expense. 

Over to you 

Are you thinking about deleting your WhatsApp account before it is too late? Or do you think that everything has been blown out of proportion and WhatsApp is still safe to use related to the privacy settings? Please share your thoughts with other readers of this blog. You can also ask any questions or give your feedback by using the comments section below. 

January 15, 2021
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