WhatsApp strategy?

Apparently I’ll need to start using WhatsApp to communicate with other colleagues around the world. I’ve never installed it nor needed it. And I’ve heard about privacy concerns - mostly because of the Facebook back channel. (I don’t have Facebook etc. installed)

One option I guess is to buy a cheap phone, and use that number to create an account, and only use that phone for this sort of thing. But am I being too paranoid? Is this relatively benign?

What are you worried about? I know dozens of folks who use it daily for most of their communication.

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I have the same concerns as the OP. I have colleagues who use WhatsApp extensively. I’ve refused to install it because I do all I can to protect my privacy (hence, no FB or other SM other than this forum).

I can’t speak for the OP but for me, it is a privacy issue. I don’t trust FB at all so I’ very leery of anything product or service associated with FB.

Is my concern overblown?


Can you use Signal? It has exactly the same feature set, with real privacy.

I am refusing to use WhatsApp out of principle. Facebook is a criminal company that should be thrown into the sun.


Assuming you’re on iOS it’s far more simple to negate any access other than contacts to the app.

Using an android phone might expose you to more data mining (location etc), given a less tight sandboxing of the os

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Fundamentally it’s a privacy issue. I just don’t want to give Facebook INC anymore information than I have to. I can probably manage with the web app of the service via Firefox (my official Facebook browser) and use a one-off phone number to set up the account. Or maybe this is the impetus for me to set up a personal phone and a business phone…

But as you say, perhaps I’m just too reactive.

Though given some of the other people’s responses, perhaps I’m not alone in all this.

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Or to the lower regions. :slight_smile:


I’ve got most of my colleagues on to signal, functionality is the same so they did not mind switching. Most actually enjoy the split between whatsapp (private) and work (signal)

For me it’s: any day I don’t use facebook is a win (14 years and counting)
And tbh: I will not use anything related to FB, at all, ever.

If that means comms with colleagues is via email, all the better.
It’s their loss


I’m not sure what data there is to mine or privacy concerns if you don’t have a Facebook account. As far as I can tell, you’ll only be connected to work colleagues and only for messages.

I don’t believe they WhatsApp has ads. Can somebody help me understand the privacy concern?

Can’t prove it but I suspect that FB is, or will at some point, mine information from WhatsApp. The bottom line for me is I don’t trust FB. FB owns WhatsApp. Therefore, I don’t trust WhatsApp. I’ll find another way to communicate.

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I think Daunte mentioned Zuckerberg in The Inferno when he was talking about the Eighth Circle of Hell.


Well, Brian Acton and Jan Koum are in the ninth circle. :stuck_out_tongue: I guess Acton’s trying to make up for it enough to get to the fourth circle with the Signal foundation.

This is a little dated (latest entry 2017) but this is an interesting summary of privacy related issues and Zuck’s comments.

Whatsapp is too entrenched in certain parts of the world like India where I live. It’s ubiquitous and similar to Wechat in China.

There was a brief 2 week period when everyone talked about moving away from Whatsapp to use Signal and/or Telegram. Unfortunately, people like me realised that Signal offered security and privacy but no conversations since most people were still on Whatsapp so that fizzled out quickly.


Yes, it’s also very entrenched in France, however I’m successfully moving groups of friends over. Requires a lot of effort, I admit, in some cases…

Why do you hate the sun so much! :wink:


While WhatsApp won’t share a user’s contacts or chats with Facebook at this time, the app will share a user’s profile data with Facebook. (from: Whatsapp privacy notice)
And with the integration of all facebook messaging platforms into one solution even the contacts will be merged at some point this or next year.

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And the net effect will be somewhat more precisely targeted ads…. I don’t get the paranoia.

Nowadays FB (and others, of course) mines metadata, not data (locations, behaviours, trends and so on).

Since one do not buy or see ads in Whatsapp the effects of this mining are outside the app (one example may be that with WA data - where you live, contacts information (those are data, not metadata) - and other data - from FB, cookies and so on - you get profiled and get targeted ads - https://twitter.com/robertgreeve/status/1397032784703655938)

I would not limit this only to targeted ads, as many examples in the past demonstrate

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I had WhatsApp around a decade ago as something like 95% of people where I live use it. I was constantly bombarded with requests to join groups (for my kid’s school, work and it seemed any other reason under the sun) and people would be always sending absolutely pointless messages. It felt like most people used it to kill boredom, like other social media.

The result was I couldn’t concentrate on anything for any amount of time, and I was contantly recieveing messages like “How are you?” without any reason for it, and silly jokes and pictures that disrupted my focus all day.

I quit not because of privacy, but because I found it really distruptive to productivity. Now, people contact me using normal SMS and I do not get the timewasting messages that I got with WhatsApp. I’m not the only one, most of my friends who are academics and engineers refuse to use it as well, as they do not want to be constantly interupted.

For me, it’s another social media that has no real purpose except to distrupt and interfere. There are already perfectly good means to communcate like email, phone and SMS. For international messages, I do have Telegram but only use it for two people, so it doesn’t disrupt my concentration like WhatsApp. Just like with Facebook, Instagram and Twitter, I’m glad I deleted my account.