The privacy debate: WhatsApp, Signal or Telegram?

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News of WhatsApp’s latest Terms of Service and privacy policy update has many users concerned about their privacy being invaded.

The messaging app has already rolled out the pop-up notification about the updates to its terms and privacy policy. The new update is stated to take place on 8 February 2021. Users who do not accept the update will be unable to continue using WhatsApp after this date.

The notification also included “key updates“, explaining:

  • How the app will process user data
  • How businesses can use Facebook-hosted services to store and manage their WhatsApp chats
  • How the company partners with Facebook to offer integrations across the Facebook Company Product

On its website, WhatsApp stated, “When a user forwards media within a message, we store that media temporarily in encrypted form on our servers to aid in the more efficient delivery of additional forwards.

“We do not retain your messages in the ordinary course of providing our services to you. Instead, your messages are stored on your device and not typically stored on our servers. Once your messages are delivered, they are deleted from our servers.”

The app also provided information on the payments and transactions.

“If you use our payments services, or use our Services meant for purchases or other financial transactions, we process additional information about you, including payment account and transaction information.

“Payment account and transaction information include information needed to complete the transaction (for example, information about your payment method, shipping details and transaction amount). If you use our payments services available in your country or territory, our privacy practices are described in the applicable payments privacy policy.”

WhatsApp, Signal or Telegram?

After receiving the notification, many users are contemplating whether to continue using the app or using other apps such as Signal and Telegram.

Editor-at-large of TechCrunch Mike Butcher tweeted: “WhatsApp will share its users’ personal information, including phone numbers, IP addresses, contacts, & more with Facebook from Feb. 8, according to the new T&Cs. No opt-out. The only way to object is to leave the service & move to a service like Signal or Telegram.”

Tesla, SpaceX and The Boring Company CEO Elon Musk also gave his opinion, simply stating: “Use Signal.”

Unlike WhatsApp, the two alternative apps do not share user data.

And for users wondering and weighing up their options, Butcher also provided the key differences in privacy between Facebook, WhatsApp, Signal and Telegram: