The widespread coverage of this news and a tweet about this from Elon Musk has caused people to start downloading the Signal app en masse. My Signal app is flooded with notifications about people in my contacts having joined Signal. I have been a Signal used for many years now. I like it and would be happy to see a day when everyone I interact with migrates to Signal.
But that won’t really happen. Unless something drastic happens, like the govt banning the WhatsApp app, people will keep using, will have to keep using, WhatsApp. You will never be able to uninstall WhatsApp from your phone. Here’s why
- Your parents won’t switch. For you, WhatsApp might be a messaging app, but for people of my dad’s generation - WhatsApp is THE SOCIAL NETWORK. This is the generation that only carries a smartphone so that they can use WhatsApp. They cannot use apps like Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, or Instagram which for you fulfil the need for networking. WhatsApp is where they found their long lost friends. WhatsApp is where they send Good Morning messages to the family group. This is where they belong. They might start using Signal to talk to you to shut you up if you insist. But they will not leave WhatsApp.
- Your work uses WhatsApp. Unless your work is super duper anal about data privacy you are definitely a part of a few work-related WhatsApp groups. It is not uncommon to see a new WhatsApp group created whenever a new project starts or a new vendor is being onboarded. The email has its place. WhatsApp will retain its place.
- Most people don’t really care about privacy. They have already clicked the “Accept” and moved on. They will only be available on WhatsApp. You will have to keep WhatsApp for them.
- You yourself will have a hard time leaving WhatsApp. Facebook hires the best people from across the globe to ensure that their products become addictive and hard to quit. The sheer convenience and omnipresence of WhatsApp is a result of all that effort only. If it was that easy to get out of the grips of such apps, Facebook would not be as big as it is today.
So what can you do. Clearly, it’s safe to assume that uninstalling WhatsApp is not an option. So this is what I recommend. A lot of these recommended solutions come from this fantastically detailed thread on Reddit here
- Try to use WhatsApp exclusively with closest friends and family members. Exclusively. Even among those, convert them to Signal (to anything else) if you can. Keep WhatsApp for Friends and Family only.
- Avoid sharing any personal information when interacting with a WhatsApp Business account (customer care of some brands etc). Use other official channels (emails, phones) to share this information.
- Avoid giving WhatsApp permissions other than Contacts or Storage. No location, no telephone, no camera, no microphone, no SMS.
- Make it known that it is recommended to use Signal over WhatsApp for contacting you. Tell people to keep both Signal and WhatsApp on their phone. They do not need to delete WhatsApp to use Signal.
- A plumber you called in once to fix a leak does not need contact you on WhatsApp . Block/delete all such contacts.
- Posting stories is clearly out of the picture.
If you are one of those who got motivated and downloaded Signal, let me tell you one thing. You did the right thing. For now. Privacy is a fundamental right. You are right to worry about it.
If you are interested in reading more such posts about Privacy you can find them here - https://akhil.me/tags/Privacy/
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