This morning I announced to my friends I was quitting Whatsapp, effective feb. 7th, 2021.
Immediately some of these friends reacted with various objections so, to avoid repeating the same explanations over and over, I thought of summarizing the reasons for my decision here.
- The fact that it does not go in effect in Europe because of GDPR does not mean it’s “a good thing”; in fact it’s a smoking gun of the opposite: it’s so bad, it’s against the law in some parts of the world.
- Some argued that “they already know everything about us”; while ON AGGREGATE this is certainly true, not single company knows everything: Google owns my searches and my travels, Facebook owns my social interactions, Linkedin my job data, Amazon my purchasing info, Paypal my payment info – it’s kind of spread across independent companies; BTW, that’s my rationale for not using Waze or not buying anything on FB, so it’s also my main reason for dropping Whatsapp.
- The argument “everybody has it” is equally hollow, at least for me: I refuse to accept adoption lock-in on grounds it deprives me of the only effective weapon against tech behemots, i.e. to stop using their service. I did not like the way Windows evolved, so I stopped using it. I did not like the iPhone when it came out, so I never bought one. I regard choice as a sacred freedom and wish to avail myself to such freedom when a provider does something I don’t like. I have the same attitude towards energy providers which I fire remorselessly as soon as they misbehave. In our house there is a healthy iOs / macOS / Android mix, but also as a family license for Microsoft Office: not always super-easy, but it preserves our flexibility.
- Whatsapp is among the worst offenders in terms of how much data it collects when it performs its service, right after the vampirish Facebook Messenger: find below a comparison among the various messaging apps of data recorded, which I compiled from this article:
No more messaging?
Not really – based on the table above I decided to heed Elon Musk’s suggestion to use Signal instead: not only it does not collect or store ANY user data, it’s also Open Source, so nobody “owns” it. That was also my reason to use Firefox, although I admit from time to time I lapse back into Chrome when Firefox becomes a little too slow.
I could have picked Telegram, but the fact it has an owner, which is a Dubai company owned by the founders of Russian social network VKontakte, sort of rings an alarm bell in my head. Similarly, I would never use a Chinese service.
So, no big deal, I guess I simply don’t want to put all my eggs in the same basket; happy to continue to chat on Signal.