Why quit Whatsapp?


This morning I announced to my friends I was quitting Whatsapp, effective feb. 7th, 2021.

The decision was prompted by an announced change in Whatsapp’s privacy policy (effective february 8th) which would allow it to share private conversation data with Facebook in order to better tailor ads: in other words, you discuss a possible weekend in Portofino with your wife and you get bombarded by ads about hotel deals there.

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.

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.

All eggs in one basket? | InterWealth Group

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