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Defender I

WhatsUpp with WhatsApp

 WhatsApp (WA) recently announced new privacy policies on data sharing that emphasized that, as a Facebook (FB) company, they will share data collected on users with the other FB companies. Lots going on here.


1. Apparently this new sharing policy has caused a massive backlash, especially in India.
WhatsApp Scrambles As Users In Big Indian Market Fret Over Privacy (1/15/21)


2. FB and WA have reacted to the clamor by delaying the new policy implementation three months.
WhatsApp is delaying a new policy change after critics claimed the update would have turned over use... (1/15/21)

Note they apparently are trying to deal with their PR mess, not improve the policy. FB is claiming that they have not really changed how they handle data within the FB family of companies, just improve how they support businesses who use WA.


3. People abandoning WA have created a good news/bad news situation for competitor encrypted chat service Signal, as new Signal subscribers swamp their servers. 
Messaging App Signal Facing Technical Difficulties  (1/15/21)


Presumably many of the messaging migrants were influenced by Tesla CEO Elon Musk's statements.
Signal sees surge in new signups after boost from Elon Musk and WhatsApp controversy  (1/7/21)


4. Isn't user privacy preserved as long as WA keeps the promise to use true end-to-end encryption, never decrypting chat content?


Not really. By merging all data from all FB companies about who you chat with, when, how often, and for how long, what FB pages you visit and which you like, what online ads you click in FB, then cross-linking that with what FB knows about all of your chat contacts, and who they contact, they can build a whopper of a detailed dossier on you. The detail will include all unencrypted messages FB can read through Facebook Messenger, along with comments on your FB page and the FB pages of those contacts. Consider particularly an open conversation in FB Messenger with a comment as a new topic opens up, "Let's move this to WhatsApp."


This process is based on the network analysis processes used for many decades by signals intelligence agencies like NSA and GCHQ. Think of it like super-powered contact tracing. In fact, consider NSA's methods today for social network analysis, as described in Wired's
Inside the NSA’s Secret Tool for Mapping Your Social Network (5/24/2020)

We can reasonably assume that FB is doing exactly the same thing as the NSA as they build your personal dossier with all of their tools. 


(c) 2021 D. Cragin Shelton


The above was originally published in my Randomness blog.




D. Cragin Shelton, DSc
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2 Replies
Community Champion

It is a fatal mistake to believe that ANY Silicon Valley tech protects privacy. Case in point "DO NOT USE SIGNAL" it is a "Government Op". Sure Moxie has great hair, but mine is natural. Take the time to understand the origin of Signal and how it was funded. The story involves several million dollars in seed and development capital from Radio Free Asia, a CIA spinoff whose history goes back to 1951. Is this just a conspiracy theory trying to sell more books? Possibly, but Moxie hasn't exactly come clean...

Newcomer II

I was really hoping that the public discussions about chat privacy as a result of WhatsApp's new terms and conditions would spill over into web browsers and search engines. If not for the sake of privacy then for the sake of keeping competition alive and well in terms of search engines and web browsers.