Years ago (circa 2012) jumped on the WhatsApp bandwagon as a compromise for not joining Facebook and co. This, I discovered, was a brilliant alternative to the defunct Yahoo Messenger and plethora of other messengers out there at the time. As the technology developed and the voice messaging improved, my mobile phone bills decreased and keeping in touch with friends all over the world became a piece of cake. Since I only made the switch to iOS in 2015, WhatsApp was a brilliant substitute for Skype, which always seemed to gobble up so much mobile data.
You all know my sentiments about Facebook, so I won’t go into that. I tried it, disliked it intensely, and know perfectly well what I am not missing out on! Especially the messenger. Since I was already very involved in WhatsApp, there was no point in getting caught up in yet another messenger. I want to be accessible to people, but not permanently! At it is, switching between iMessage and WhatsApp is difficult enough already. Why on earth would I want to add Facebook Messenger into the ring? I know a lot of people who communicate only via Facebook and this is beyond my comprehension. Has nobody read the fine print about data protection and privacy?
I was way behind the times in joining Instagram, and discovered much to my horror that it too had a messenger. Good grief! Why would anyone want to communicate via Instagram messenger?
OK, but the clincher is the fact that Facebook owns all three platforms and announced last week their grand plan to merge the Facebook, Instagram and WhatsApp Messengers, enabling them to interface with one another without needing separate accounts, migrating contacts or merge directories. Confused about the jargon? Trust me, I only understand it because I work in the IT world… but it boils down to the fact that if you have Facebook Messenger you will be able to send a message to someone who only has a WhatsApp account, and so on.
It sounds great in the beginning until you begin to ask one or two questions. Data protection? Privacy? Ha! All the data, photos, etc. will be exposed on all the platforms. and this will make it incredibly easy for the hackers to steal your material. This is internet troll heaven served on a silver platter. So my faith in WhatsApp crumbled last week, after years to trusting its encryption levels and being one of the few trustworthy messengers out there.
I attended a seminar last year on data protection and we were provided a list of messengers that did not pass the security standards for data protection, especially for intra- and inter-office communication. Efficiency, it seems, is not moving in the same direction as privacy protection and this is a scary thing.
So where does that leave us in terms of communication and social networking? Well, for iOS users this is not much an issue because the closed circuit FaceTime and iMessage remains obnoxiously exclusive. But for the rest of the world, the time has come to seriously consider how much data you are willing to expose and risk.