WhatsApp is one of the most used messaging applications worldwide. Originally it was a nightmare in terms of privacy , but in recent years they have been improving as they have had great competition from apps like Telegram or Signal. However, there are still many reasons why you should not use WhatsApp, and we will list them below.
WhatsApp is owned by Facebook, which entails
WhatsApp has been owned by Facebook for more than three years. In that period of time they have tried to find ways to monetize the application, since they had to eliminate the payment system when free alternatives such as Telegram arrived. WhatsApp Business has been a smart way to make companies contact users in exchange for paying for using the service.
However, Facebook also monetizes the data of the users of its platforms, using them not only for advertisements , but also to be part of studies (although everything is always anonymous). Facebook often suffers from data leaks , but fortunately none has yet affected WhatsApp users.
Since April 2016, WhatsApp encrypts all messages end to end . Thanks to this, we are certain that nobody on the road will be able to intercept the message and spy on it. However, there is data that Facebook does not encrypt and to which it has full access: metadata . For example, you can know at what time we send the messages and to whom we send them. They can also deduce that you live in the same house throughout the year what is its size, as well as knowing whether or not you live as a couple if you talk a lot with a person who then at night is in the same location as you.
In addition, by simply installing the application, it stores data such as the IMEI of your mobile, which operator you have hired, your approximate location, what applications you have installed, etc. We can see this easily for example when we are going to enter our telephone number for the first time, where the international code of our country appears (+34 in the case of Spain). Facebook for example has used phone numbers for personalized ads.
Vulnerabilities: are they casual?
WhatsApp suffered six security flaws in 2019, and three of them were very serious. The first allowed hacking your mobile just by receiving a call by WhatsApp (it didn’t matter if you took it or not). The second allowed that, just by receiving a GIF, an attacker could execute code remotely on our mobile. The third did something similar, but in this case sending an MP4 file.
All these failures may seem casual, but they paint more on backdoors introduced by Facebook so that governments and spy agencies can access not only the content of the app, but the entire mobile. In comparison, applications such as Signal or Telegram have not had one of these security flaws that look like backdoors.
Encrypted messages, but not Drive backups
The messages we send via Telegram or WhatsApp are encrypted , but the backup copies of the chats that are uploaded to platforms such as Google Drive or not iCloud. It is Google who has the encryption keys of the files, and in the event that in a judicial process Google is requested access, the company has to give it. In the case of WhatsApp it would not be possible for the company to give access to the messages because they do not have the encryption keys of the messages.
In the case of Telegram or Signal, companies never give up encryption keys with anyone. For example, Telegram is banned in Russia and in Iran for it. WhatsApp is not prohibited in those countries.
It is not real cross platform
WhatsApp currently depends exclusively on the mobile. This forces to have it connected to the WiFi or to the data if we want to use it in a tablet or in the computer. This causes the battery of our mobile to suffer, in addition to many times the messages take time to arrive or we have constant disconnections. Platforms such as Telegram connect users directly to servers regardless of the device from which it is made. Thanks to this, the mobile is only necessary to create the account.
Thus, WhatsApp stores all the chats on its servers, even the messages we have deleted. This negatively affects our privacy, and the fact that messages are stored on servers should be a sign that we should be able to have real cross-platform messaging, which could soon include the app.
There are better alternatives
The previous point takes us to Telegram and Signal . Currently there is nothing that WhatsApp allows that can not be done with Telegram, except for video calls. From there, all are improvements using Telegram, such as privacy, security, file submission, stability or cross-platform use. Signal is one of the safest, since for example it stores the encryption keys on the users’ devices, and never on the servers.
In addition, if the password changes for a contact, the user is notified of it. WhatsApp also introduced this option in the app, but it is not activated by default, where the vast majority of users have certainly not bothered to activate it. To activate it, go to Settings – Account – Security, and do not activate it by default precisely because they have no interest in users knowing this.