You have probably read that Facebook plans to integrate its messaging services on Instagram, WhatsApp and Facebook Messenger.
At the moment WhatsApp and Instagram users are identified by their phone numbers while Facebook users sign up with other information. Bringing the three applications together would give Facebook the ability to greatly expand its already detailed profiles of users, creating an even more lucrative data set to mine for ad revenue.
Once complete, the merger would mean that a Facebook user could communicate directly with someone who only has a WhatsApp account. This is currently impossible as the applications have no common software.
Bigger still, it makes Facebook’s suite of apps a much tighter, interwoven collection of services. This could make the key parts of Facebook’s empire more difficult to break up and spin off if governments and regulators decide that it is desirable and necessary. Consequently this comprehensive plan to link user data at a fundamental level may prompt regulators to take another look at the company’s data handling practices.
You may be concerned about this or you may not depending on your usage of these applications and your attitude towards your personal data.
If you are (and we at DataSafe certainly are) the question is what to do. Firstly, the integration may be stopped in its tracks by government or social pressure. Secondly even if it does go ahead the good news is that there is time to act.
As a precaution we are installing Signal messenger on our phones as an alternative to WhatsApp (as are many in the IT industry) and are trying to persuade our contacts to do the same. https://signal.org/
Signal is a free app and is widely regarded as the most secure and private way to communicate over distance. In addition to text, Signal supports secure voice (VoIP) and video calls between users. Although mainly a mobile app, a desktop version also exists.
Signal is in fact more than a replacement for WhatsApp. It is a secure and open source messaging app that can also replace your Android phone or iPhone’s regular SMS app if you wish. Messages to and from other Signal users are sent over the internet and protected by very strong end-to-end encryption. The beauty of Signal is that it is almost transparent in use. This should make it easier to convince friends, family and colleagues to move to and use the app.
Try it today. There is nothing to lose – except your personal data.