In the past couple of days we’ve been answering a number of questions regarding the upcoming changes to WhatsApp and what to do. First we’ll clear up what is happening so that you can decide what, if anything, you want to do about it. It’s a personal choice. Then, we’ll explain what your options are.
Whatshappening: On Feb 8, Facebook will import all the data that whatsapp has collected about you over the years and send it to the mother ship. FB will also collect all new data you generate directly to the HQ. This includes contacts, locations, payments and purchases, devices used, calls made etc..
Here’s a sample list.
Some people are fine with this. Many people have already shared all this information with Facebook. Other people aren’t so happy and are switching to alternate messaging platforms. The two most popular messaging apps to switch over to are Signal and Telegram. If you’re happy with the changes, you need not do anything. Facebook will import your data to HQ and you’ll continue using whatsapp as you already do.
There is a good chance you will end up using Signal or Telegram in the future, regardless of what you do, as some of your friends and colleagues will migrate over and refuse to use whatsapp.
If you want to switch, this is what you need to do – before February 6.
1. Do NOT agree to the new terms window pop up in whatsapp. If you accept the new terms, your data will go to FB. I had it pop up yesterday, a month ahead of schedule. It seems FB may be worried about possible fallout and cancellations as the press have gotten wind of this.
2. Install another app called Signal. It’s easy to do. We’ll focus on Signal as it does everything whatsapp does plus more (you can use it on your computer easier). Signal is focused on privacy from the ground up, is open source, non-profit and popular with the privacy groups and the EU. Signal are not trying to become a unicorn by selling their users.
- Anyone who is in your phone’s address book AND has Signal, will auto appear in Signal contacts. Including in future.
- For people in you your address book who don’t live in the same country as you, you need to add their country code in your address book. This is very useful if you travel as you won’t need to enter the country code when you call back home. As an example, add +44 for the UK (remove the 0 from the phone numbers) and +1 for the US and Canada (remove the 1 from the phone numbers).
- When you first install Signal, there’s a lag before the contacts are synced.
- If you want to use the desktop app, it’s better to install it sooner than later as it only has chats from the installation date forward i.e. it doesn’t import old chats.
3. Once you’ve done that, contact people on whatsapp that you communicate with and let them know that you’re on Signal. You can do this through the Signal app. It’s very easy and, through the Signal app, you can let your whatsapp friends and colleagues know that you’ve moved over to Signal and recreate the whatsapp groups. Full instructions are here. It’s the same simple process for Android and iOS.
- If you want to save any whatsapp chats. In whatsapp, go chat thread, go to the very first chat in it, then go to top right hamburger menu, then ‘more’, then ‘export chat’.
4. By February 6th you need to make a decision. If you don’t want your data moved from Whatsapp to FB you’ll need to delete your Whatsapp account and then uninstall Whatsapp.
Do NOT uninstall whatsapp until after you’ve deleted your whatsapp account.
This is the process to delete your account:
I hope that clears up some questions surrounding the upcoming whatsapp changes. Each person needs to weigh up personal privacy vs the inconvenience of switching and decide for themselves, information helps.