WhatsApp under siege by Facebook as users flee to rival Signal app

Facebook's desire to tap into WhatsApp user data using an ultimatum is seeing people leave the app in droves

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After being a bastion of privacy for years, WhatsApp is experiencing a mass exodus after the Facebook-owned company forces new privacy terms on its users that are not going down well. 

The app was bought by Facebook back in 2014, and while it rolled out a change to its privacy policy in 2016, telling users that it would share their date with Facebook unless they opted out, this latest update is an outright ultimatum, and if you don't like it, you can delete the app. 

As testament to the EU's privacy regulators, these changes are only being rolled out to WhatsApp users outside of the EU. The key updates page for EU users and non-EU users shows the difference, with other regions being notified of the following:

"As part of the Facebook Companies, WhatsApp partners with Facebook to offer experiences and integrations across Facebook’s family of apps and products."

The information that Facebook is harvesting from WhatsApp can be found in an FAQ, and includes:

  • Usage data
  • Location
  • Contacts
  • Status updates
  • Device details including phone number
  • Financial details from purchases via WhatsApp

If you're a WhatsApp user, you have until February 8 to accept the new terms. If not, then you need to find yourself another app to use, because there's no using it without them. 

Elon Musk is amongst the many voices criticising the move, and encouraging people to look at alternative messaging apps, like Signal, on his Twitter account –something that whistleblower Edward Snowden has seconded.  

Some people may not be too fussed about these changes, while others will see this as a slippery slope for Facebook to chip away the WhatsApp's privacy policies, which is why it has been such a popular app. 

As with all terms of service updates, we encourage you to give it a once over before you agree to anything. Many people will be seeking a new messaging app that puts privacy first over data exchange. If you're looking to migrate from WhatsApp due to privacy concerns then take a look at our best WhatsApp alternatives, handpicked to encrypt your conversations, and boost personal privacy. 

Shabana Arif

Shabana worked at T3.com as News Editor covering tech and gaming, and has been writing about video games for almost a decade (and playing them since forever). She's had bylines at major gaming sites during her freelance career before settling down here at T3, and has podcasts, streaming, and video content under her belt to boot. Outside of work, she also plays video games and should really think about expanding her hobbies. If you have any tech or gaming tips, shoot over an email or DM her on social media.