Rakuten Viber, one of the world’s leading apps for free and easy communication, expresses outrage over WhatsApp’s latest privacy update. While in the past, WhatsApp users could opt-out of the app sharing their number with Facebook, going forward, it will be mandatory. Users must agree to the new terms within 30 days, or they won’t be able to use their accounts.
To understand the slippery slope WhatsApp users are in, we suggest going back to WhatsApp Co-Founder Brian Acton’s interview with Parmy Olsen for Forbes in 2018. There he discusses the reasoning behind his departure and his tweet in which he advised people to delete their Facebook – “I sold my users’ privacy to a larger benefit. I made a choice and a compromise. And I live with that every day.”
With its latest update, WhatsApp completed its assimilation into Facebook. As Facebook and WhatsApp become one, the messaging app’s users are being monetized to a larger extent than before, and this should be alarming for those seeking private messaging.
Up until the January 4, 2021 update, WhatsApp’s terms of agreement stated the following – “Respect for your privacy is coded into our DNA. Since we started WhatsApp, we’ve aspired to build our Services with a set of strong privacy principles in mind.”
“However, your WhatsApp messages will not be shared on Facebook for others to see. In fact, Facebook will not use your WhatsApp messages for any purpose other than to assist us in operating and providing our Services.”
Not surprisingly, these two statements have been removed.
In stark contrast with WhatsApp’s slippery slope on data privacy, Viber has led by example, implementing core features to ensure user data is safe and secure. Those features include – end-to-end encryption (E2EE) by default for free personal calls and chats, no special settings required. It’s clear and simple – No one can access the user calls and chats except the participants, not even Viber.
Viber does not store delivered messages, and Cloud backup is off by default. Users that would like to back up their chats can choose to activate cloud backup, but Viber doesn’t keep any copy of users’ messages and calls. Viber offers top-notch screen privacy, allowing users to send self-destructing messages within a chat, and entire conversations can be hidden and only visible using a pin code. Users’ data are never shared with Facebook. Viber has cut all business ties with Facebook. Thus, users’ information (phone numbers and personal data) will never be shared with Facebook.