First of all: I’m not happy about it.
To be honest, I was an opponent of WhatsApp, but since I use it, I don’t wanna miss it. It’s just really easy and you don’t have to hunt your friends to use a specific platform – they already do. So in this post, I’ll show my concerns about this great app.

Why WhatsApp?

Facebook has a problem. Its users are getting older and because younger people don’t want to hang out with their (grand)parents, they leave. Additionally, Facebook is not your typical platform to talk with friends about going out on Friday night:

  • Your friends may not have Facebook (anymore)
  • It is too clumsy and battery-eating on mobile devices

So Facebook loses all that communication to another platform, WhatsApp is its own social network. And since Facebook is about getting bigger and bigger, they don’t like that.

On the other hand, WhatsApp has everything people need. A very easy registration and they can see their friends immediately, without having to exchange another number or address. All they need to do, is to download an app and press a button. And because it’s that easy, people even share their address book without any privacy concerns.

To be fair, this deal was not unexpected. Newspapers wrote about that some time ago. The reason was the same everytime: losing users to another platform.
But everyone thought that evil plan would be over after acquiring Instagram…

Changes

Speaking of which, I really hope that Facebook keeps WhatsApp just as it is right now. We don’t want ads and we don’t want to know how everyone’s current relationship status is. WhatsApp said:

Here’s what will change for you, our users: nothing.

I seem to have problems accepting this. If nothing is changing, then how is Facebook gonna make money out of WhatsApp? WhatsApp itself is not that good at making money. The first year is free, then it’s US$0.99 per year on Android, on the iPhone it’s a one time fee if I remember correctly. It displays no ads, the founders are strictly against selling those.

Additionally, I hope that content doesn’t have to be linked to Facebook. I want to share my pictures just as easy, as it is now. I don’t want to point my friends to Facebook and make them have a Facebook account, just keep it.

Facebook has acquired WhatsApp to have a greater user base. Cool. But how does Facebook get them back to Facebook? Remember, some people use WhatsApp because “it’s not Facebook”. I really hope they don’t go for sharing data with Facebook, like linking your mobile number with your Facebook account.

Privacy

Some might say, this is not a problem at all, because it’s just giving your data to another party. But, in my opinion, WhatsApp is more trustworthy since it’s not linked with a shitload of other data. Sure, they’ve got what I tell my friends, but Facebook has shown in the past, that they like to share a little too much. And WhatsApp is not selling my data, like Facebook for their personalized ads.

WhatsApp has had some issues like unencrypted connections, but I think users have “forgiven” and still use it, because it’s easy. I wouldn’t use WhatsApp to exchange atomic bomb start codes*, but I use it for everyday communication.
* Hello NSA!

Alternatives

When the fact that WhatsApp uses unencrypted connections got public, those who care thought about switching to other platforms. There are alternatives, like LINE or Viber (which got acquired too the other day), but I don’t think that’s possible:

  • People don’t want to switch if they don’t care
  • There’s no user base like WhatsApp’s, so instead of 1, you need 2-3 apps to still talk to your friends

I am for open source, but just if it serves people well. I’m not in if people just want to push their idealistic reasons. So although if there are open alternatives, nobody will use that, especially when it’s not that easy like WhatsApp. Trust me, no non-geeky person wants to exchange XMPP addresses and remember a password…
Switching back to SMS is no alternative either, because it may cost you and there’s no easy way of sending messages in a group or sharing cat pictures.

Conclusion

So what should we do now? It depends (Best. Answer. Ever.)

If you’re REALLY concerned about privacy, leave WhatsApp. But chances are, if you use WhatsApp, you aren’t. In this case, keep using WhatsApp and see what happens.

PS: I am not paid by WhatsApp and I don’t think everything is great and cool. I just can’t stand people stating WhatsApp is bad, when the alternatives are complicated as hell and/or don’t have enough users yet.

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