The clarification from WhatsApp came on the heels of growing user concern over how the messaging giant would use their data and share it with brands for targeted advertising on Facebook. Once a user agrees to WhatsApp’s new terms, their chat history with a business account, say an organic vegetable seller, will be accessible to Facebook which it will use to send targeted advertisements to their Facebook profile page.
“This update includes changes related to messaging a business on WhatsApp, which is optional, and provides further transparency about how we collect and use data,” the Facebook-owned messaging app said.
Already, a slew of Indian companies have advised their employees to not use WhatsApp to share sensitive information with clients or other colleagues. Many of them have publicly suggested a switch to Signal or Telegram, alternate messaging platforms to WhatsApp as they don’t collect any user data.
Sameer Nigam, founder of digital payment app PhonePe, which competes with WhatsApp Pay, said over 1,000 PhonePe employees have shifted to Signal. Nigam said he has “recreated all his work and family groups seamlessly” on Signal. “…most of my work contacts (other entrepreneurs, partners, media, bankers etc) are already on Signal too. I think folks have been looking for an alternative for a while now. Ironically FB itself might have just given people a reason to finally switch…”
Former Facebook executive Chamath Palihapitiya in a tweet said, “Starting in Feb, WhatsApp will begin sharing all kinds of data with Facebook. They just killed their best feature – privacy. Please no longer text me on WhatsApp. Download @signalapp.”
According to local media Economic Times, Signal’s app was installed 2,200 times on India’s app stores last Wednesday, up 38% from 1,600 installs in the week ended December 30, according to mobile intelligence firm Sensor Tower.