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Follow up to “Goodbye Whatsapp, hello Signal”


I got three kinds of replies to the Goodbye Whatsapp, Hello Signal email I sent on Saturday.

1. People who thanked me for the advice. On Signal. That felt good.

2. People who said Thanks, but No Thanks. Or tried to convince me that there’s no need for Signal, and that they’re all bad for privacy, and we should just stick with what’s convenient which is Whatsapp. I have no comment on this. Like I said, this is not a debate or a discussion. I just shared my opinion and requested you to consider moving to Signal. I’m not convincing or requesting anyone to do it. You know what’s best for you.

3. People who said Give me more information. Why is the world suddenly moving to Signal? Is it just Elon Musk effect?

Here’s my reply to the third category:

When you don’t pay for something, you’re not a customer. You’re the product.

What that means is that when you use a free software, and the company that makes that software is worth hundreds of billions of dollars, that means they sell information about you.

Marketers buy that information to show you advertising. Politicians buy that information to influence you to vote for them. Governments buy that information to spy on you. Stalkers, Social Engineers, Fradulent agents, and all kinds of Bad Faith actors have access to your information.

This is not new. Facebook and Instagram have been doing this forever. WhatsApp (which is a Facebook Inc. product) was an exception. That has changed now, as per their own policy. W will join F and I to create one big ecosystem.

Facebook and Instagram, while still pretty bad, wasn’t as big an issue because you usually shared public information on a public platform. So, hopefully you were careful.

Whatsapp is different. Whatsapp is personal. On whatsapp you share your private opinions with your family which you wouldn’t share in public. You share your kid’s pictures. You share important documents. You share usernames and passwords. You share pictures of your credit cards. Your live location. And tons of other very private details.

I know you do this because I do this too. And much more that I won’t even admit here. I do this with a feeling that it is private.

If you’re comfortable with strangers having access to that information, that’s your choice. If not, that’s your choice too.

If a courier company started opening and reading you letters, would you change the vendor? If yes, this is no different. What if the next company also does the same? Well, we’ll change them too.

Signal is better. For now. If they change, let’s move somewhere else. It’s actually that simple.

Privacy activist,