WhatsApp, the encrypted messaging app that sells itself as a privacy-focused service, announced that its users would have to agree to let Facebook and its subsidiaries collect WhatsApp data including users’ phone numbers, contacts’ phone numbers, locations, and other data.
In addition to the notice sent to its users, WhatsApp noted that users who do not accept to share the requested information before the 8th of February, 2020, would be restricted from using the messaging app.
The move prompted several calls for users to delete their WhatsApp accounts and switch to other encrypted messaging apps like Signal and Telegram.
“Signal and Telegram are now better alternatives if you are concerned about your privacy,” Mike Butcher, an editor at TechCrunch tweeted.
Mike Butcher shared screenshots of the data WhatsApp collects, in comparison with the data Signal and Telegram collects:
Tesla CEO, Elon Musk, also recommended that users switch services. He wrote a tweet saying: “Use Signal.”
Facebook bought WhatsApp in 2014, and in 2016, it gave users a one-time chance to opt out of sharing app data with Facebook.
Business Insider reported a WhatsApp spokeswoman saying that the change was to allow businesses to store WhatsApp chats using Facebook’s broader infrastructure.
WhatsApp founders – Brian Acton and Jan Koum – left the company in 2017 and 2018, respectively. Acton’s departure follows Facebook’s decision to introduce ads to WhatsApp, and has called for people to delete Facebook.
Jan Koum’s departure was also surrounded by reports that he had clashes with Facebook over the company’s approach to user privacy on WhatsApp.