Over the past week or so we've seen a lot of chatter about people shifting their messaging platform from WhatsApp to Signal as a result of fallout from a change to its privacy policy. People were concerned that WhatsApp was going to start funneling data to its parent company Facebook. While I understand people's concerns, there are actually a few things worth noting:

WhatsApp isn't breaking any laws here The privacy policy is a little questionable but the relevant text states that "the same information that is set out in our privacy policy is available to both WhatsApp and Facebook, and all of our advertising partners." Meaning, WhatsApp isn't making any decision based on whether or not it needs that data for its advertising. In fact, WhatsApp has made a commitment to not sell your information to third parties. As VP of privacy engineering, Jan Koum said: "Just as with our current team, WhatsApp Technologies doesn't transfer your information to third parties outside of WhatsApp. We wish we had the opportunity to share more information about how we'd like to use your data for our products, but we don't." My personal take—Interestingly, I've changed from WhatsApp to Signal on numerous occasions over the past week due to various stories happening around Facebook, its stance on Data Sharing related to Facebook's Mark Zuckerberg. But I continually felt much more comfortable with WhatsApp as a result of this policy shift than the Facebook-owned and operated Telegram service I was using. To me, both WhatsApp and Signal were strong alternatives that fit my needs pretty well. So what happened? And why did people stop using WhatsApp over the last seven days? On 26th June, WhatsApp announced it was "scrapping WhatsApp Protected Mode." There was certainly no outward — or broached topic — of data sharing in the announcement. The main reason that seemed to be popping up as a backlash against WhatsApp's policy change was with the announcement that WhatsApp would begin sending to users your location data, on a slighly larger than average: Once you begin to receive location data when you're using WhatsApp, you'll never stop the practice.

The most salient point is that the data being shared here is obviously not PERSONAL INFORMATION but a type of DLC (PageLines Data Transfer License) that masks that data from most smartphone apps. The last significant pushback came in the form of a Reddit thread entitled "Privacy Risk > Emotional Risk," in which users shared their experiences of leaving WhatsApp as a result. The detailed post talks about the brutal abuse and shaming that comes with forcing users onto and away from WhatsApp. A user says that every day they will receive a phone call to notify them that their WhatsApp location was shared, suggesting that the user is being charged with child pornography, if they have private photos of kids on their phone on the social networks.

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