Privacy Blog

"Friends don’t let friends get spied on.' – Richard Stallman, President of the Free Software Foundation and longtime advocate of privacy in technology.

Whatsapp is Introducing Ads and May Remove End-to-End Encryption

WhatsApp has had a checkered past.

WhatsApp Messenger is a freeware, cross-platform messaging and Voice over IP (VoIP) service. It was created by WhatsApp Inc. of Mountain View, California. During the time the app was supported by WhatsApp, Inc. the app never displayed advertising.

In a June 2012 blog post, WhatsApp referred to advertising, among other things, as “the disruption of aesthetics, the insults to your intelligence and the interruption of your train of thought…Remember, when advertising is involved you the user are the product…”

WhatsApp, Inc. was acquired by Facebook in February 2014 for approximately US$19.3 billion.

At the time of the acquisition, the WhatsApp, Inc. founders promised all the WhatsApp users that the app would always remain free of advertising. However, that soon changed. One of Koum’s co-founders is on record as saying “I sold my users privacy.”

During the recent annual Facebook Marketing Summit in the Netherlands, Facebook confirmed that ads are coming to WhatsApp beginning in 2020.

Next, WhatsApp has been plagued with security problems. The app always claimed to offer end-to-end encryption to keep all messages secret. However, numerous bugs have appeared that allowed hackers and others to see the supposedly confidential messages. See https://duckduckgo.com/?q=site%3Aprivacyblog.com+whatsapp&atb=v132-2_j&ia=web for numerous past articles on this blog that describe WhatsApp’s shortcomings over the years.

Parent company Facebook apparently has decided to eliminate the problems by a simple method: eliminate the encryption!

The Facebook executives have not yet made a public statement about eliminating encryption but also have refused to promise that encryption will remain in WhatsApp. Details may be found in an article by Jeff Yeung in the HypeBeast web site at: https://hypebeast.com/2019/5/whatsapp-ads-monetization-encryption-removal.

Suggestion: If you are concerned about security and privacy in your text messages and voice communications, switch to Signal NOW at https://www.signal.org/! Signal is a freeware, cross-platform messaging and Voice over IP (VoIP) service. Unlike WhatsApp, Signal even offers free, encrypted two-way VIDEO conversations. Also unlike WhatsApp, Signal has a history of very few security problems.

In short, Signal is the better, safer, and much more private service.

Categories: Online Privacy & Security

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