My decision: Stick with WhatsApp, after Data collection comparison of Signal, iMessage, WhatsApp & Facebook Messenger; and other issues…

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Should you stop using WhatsApp? The short answer is no as nothing has really changed.

WhatsApp’s data sharing hasn’t really changed, its security hasn’t changed, it remains the largest end-to-end encrypted platform available, and one that’s likely be used by all those you communicate with.

WhatsApp is materially better than SMS and Facebook Messenger, its mainstream alternatives. It is secure cross-platform unlike iMessage, and it is end-to-end encrypted by default, unlike Telegram. 

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In a form easier to comprehend:

Forbes compared Signal, iMessage, WhatsApp and Facebook Messenger for the data they collect on users.
Below is the data linked to you on individual apps:

  1. Facebook Messenger
    Purchase History
    Other Financial Info
    Precise Location
    Coarse Location
    Physical Address
    Email Address
    Name
    Phone Number
    Other User Contact Info
    Contacts
    Photos or Videos
    Gameplay Content
    Other User Content
    Search History
    Browsing History
    User ID
    Device ID
    Product Interaction
    Advertising Data
    Other Usage Data
    Crash Data
    Performance Data
    Other Diagnostic Data
    Other Data Types
    Browsing History
    Health
    Fitness
    Payment Info
    Photos or Videos
    Audio Data
    Gameplay Content
    Customer Support
    Other User Content
    Search History
    Sensitive Info
    iMessage
    Email address
    Phone number Search history
    Device ID
  2. WhatsApp
    Device ID
    User ID
    Advertising Data
    Purchase History
    Coarse Location
    Phone Number
    Email Address
    Contacts
    Product Interaction
    Crash Data
    Performance Data
    Other Diagnostic Data
    Payment Info
    Customer Support
    Product Interaction
    Other User Content.
  3. iMessage
    Email address
    Phone number
    Search history
    Device ID
  4. Telegram

Contact Info
Contacts
User ID

  1. Signal

None.
The only personal data Signal stores is your phone number, and it makes no attempt to link that to your identity

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Summarizing the Forbes article below:

And so, should you stop using WhatsApp? The short answer is no, nothing has really changed. WhatsApp’s data sharing hasn’t really changed, its security hasn’t changed, it remains the largest end-to-end encrypted platform available, and one that’s likely be used by all those you communicate with. WhatsApp is materially better than SMS and Facebook Messenger, its mainstream alternatives, it is secure cross-platform unlike iMessage, and it’s end-to-end encrypted by default, unlike Telegram. 

Forbes

Jan 9, 2021,07:10pm EST|111,424 views

Do You Suddenly Need To Stop Using WhatsApp?

Zak Doffman
Contributor
Cybersecurity
I write about security and surveillance.

WhatsApp’s nightmare week has continued to get worse—a backlash against the scale of its data collection quickly followed by its sudden forcing of new terms of service on its users to share their data with Facebook. Agree to this now or delete your account, it has said. And so, as many users look for alternatives, should you do the same?

WhatsApp has a serious issue—one that hit home hard in the last week. The world’s leading messaging platform claims security and privacy are in its DNA, but it is owned by the world’s most avaricious data harvesting machine. Now this WhatsApp balancing act has just become much harder, as it finds itself threatening users with deleted accounts unless they accept new terms that take effect on February 8.

The inevitable backlash prompted WhatsApp boss Will Cathcart to take to Twitter to set the record straight. The risk for WhatsApp, though, is that defending its awkward relationship with Facebook is a high-risk bubble that may have just burst. And millions of users around the world are now looking at alternatives.

In reality, WhatsApp has had this Facebook issue ever since the social media giant acquired the messaging app back in 2014. So, what has suddenly changed?

If you’ve been following the story over the last month, it will all seem to have started with Apple’s introduction of mandatory privacy labels. Facebook has been the most vocal critic of Apple’s new privacy measures. But everyone knows that Facebook is a data machine. WhatsApp, which was arguably hit harder by these privacy labels, complained that its data collection was misrepresented, and that Apple’s own iMessage was not subject to the same scrutiny, which was unfair.

Be careful what you wish for, as I commented last week. After WhatsApp complained, Apple published iMessage’s privacy labels—almost as if it had been choreographed. The contrast was stark. WhatsApp’s metadata went much further than iMessage, all of it was linked back to a user and device identity, all those security reporters and protesters that had raised concerns over WhatsApp metadata appeared vindicated.

iMessage Vs WhatsApp

iMessage Vs WhatsAppAPPLE APP STORE ‘PRIVACY LABELS’

WhatsApp continued to defend its data privacy—attesting that little was shared with Facebook, that the labelling overlooked its security measures, that all the data was needed to operate a platform serving 2 billion users and 100 billion daily messages. Somewhat missing the point, WhatsApp also suggested that its commercial services and its plans for shopping made comparisons with iMessage unfair.

But the seeds for this latest backlash were actually sown earlier, back in October, when WhatsApp confirmed those shopping plans. Everything that has now prompted such angst was evident back then, including data linkages and WhatsApp messages between consumers and businesses potentially hosted by Facebook. All of this, WhatsApp said at the time, would enable it to “continue building a business of our own, while we provide and expand free end-to-end encrypted text, video and voice calling.”

And this is the crux. WhatsApp is free. But now the price we need to pay for that free service is becoming clear. “Has Facebook finally broken WhatsApp,” I asked back then, when it was already clear that this risk “radical” change to WhatsApp was in train.

And so back to this week. Whether a case of woeful timing or an attempt to get all the bad news out at once, WhatsApp followed the privacy label debacle with the controversial implementation of its forced change in its terms of service. Again, this has been on the cards since last year. And, critically, it has been largely misunderstood.

This isn’t about WhatsApp sharing any more of your general data with Facebook than it does already, this is about using your data and your engagement with its platform to enable shopping and other business services, to provide a platform where businesses can communicate with you and sell to you, all for a price they will pay to WhatsApp. It’s also important to note that there are differences in Europe in what WhatApp can do, given GDPR. WhatsApp does not share data for its European users with Facebook for the enhancement of its products and services—that hasn’t changed.
.

The primary beneficiary from WhatsApp’s nightmare week has been Signal, a smaller but more secure alternative. I’ve long advocated for Signal, which has managed to combine the usability of WhatsApp without the same holes in its security and data practices. Signal even offers genuine multi-device access, unlike its larger rival. 

“This was inevitable,” says security researcher Sean Wright. “There’s a reason why Facebook bought WhatsApp, I am really surprised that it has taken this long to do it. It’s interesting to see the volume of people appearing to be switching to Signal. And this is a good thing, it means there are alternatives. Personally, after past actions from the likes of Facebook, it’s going to take a lot for them to restore my confidence in them regarding my privacy. I’d much rather use something such as Signal instead. The challenge however is getting others with whom you communicate to switch as well.”

Signal installs have been flying in recent days, and such is the viral nature of messaging that each of those new users will likely attract others. Signal’s marketing doesn’t need to go much further than we’re not Facebook, in reality, WhatsApp has actually been doing the marketing for its rival these past few days. WhatsApp even uses Signal’s own protocol for its encryption, albeit it has a proprietary version of this which is not open-source, unlike Signal itself which shares everything to enable the open-source community to find and report bugs and vulnerabilities.

And so, should you stop using WhatsApp? The short answer is no, nothing has really changed. WhatsApp’s data sharing hasn’t really changed, its security hasn’t changed, it remains the largest end-to-end encrypted platform available, and one that’s likely be used by all those you communicate with. WhatsApp is materially better than SMS and Facebook Messenger, its mainstream alternatives, it is secure cross-platform unlike iMessage, and it’s end-to-end encrypted by default, unlike Telegram. 

https://www.forbes.com/sites/zakdoffman/2021/01/09/stop-using-whatsapp-after-facebook-apple-imessage-and-signal-privacy-backlash/?sh=2cc2eea36cf5

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Posted byu/TileTruthOverview2 days ago

Data collection comparison of Signal, iMessage, WhatsApp & Facebook Messenger. (From Forbes article)

Discussion

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Should you switch to Signal from WhatsApp? Experts answer…

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