There is not much we can do about social media in recent times as it has become a part and parcel of our existence. It has become a hub for business, marketing, networking, education, even finding life partners and a ton of other served purposes. However, Social media has evolved to be something bigger than just a platform for communication and interaction but rather a data harvesting facility. Data has now become a very valuable resource big corporations pay huge sums of money for therefore these app and website developers employ various mechanisms and updates to acquire vital information from its users.

Recently an in-app notification was sent to WhatsApp users giving them until February 8 to accept some new arrangements introduced in the app’s terms of service and privacy policy. This time around, the notice given is a compelling one and ignoring to follow the steps and accepting the new terms of service leads to a total deactivation of your WhatsApp accounts and there is no other alternative. These new usage terms gives Facebook excessive control over your WhatsApp data. This is not your regular update as it gives an irrevocable consent to WhatsApp to share any information it holds with the Facebook and its related apps. This update is essentially to integrate Whatsapp Instagram Dms and the messenger into one powerhouse. The irony of the issue is Facebook has a long history of privacy lapses, including some more serious ones, and the mere fact that it owns some of the most widely used social media apps should be a concern to our security and privacy. Facebook companies after you accept the new update will have access to your account details, any metadata associated with your chats, your financial transactions (over WhatsApp Pay which is not available in Ghana yet), and even some information that the app automatically collects, like your log reports, device and network details, and your location (approximate, even if you haven’t consented location sharing). It’s worth pointing out that your WhatsApp chats and calls are still end-to-end encrypted, so neither Facebook nor WhatsApp can directly access your messages. However, all the associated metadata is nothing short of a digital treasure, which Facebook can use to target its services and ads better. Having said that, these policy changes apply everywhere except the EU, where WhatsApp has to work according to robust GDPR guidelines.

Until WhatsApp decides to repeal this new update which seems unlikely, you either join them or you get deactivated on the deadline day. Signal and telegram have become that person whom whenever you have a fight and silent moment with your partner you go to them but this time around there is a high possibility you may not return. Telegram and signal have seen quite and increment in downloads and usage. Initially, 8th February was the deadline for the new update however that has been postponed to May 15th due to the team from WhatsApp stating there’s been a lot of misinformation among it’s users. From another perspective, it could be because of the spike in downloads of the other social media platforms and people planning to ditch WhatsApp for these platforms. At this rate we are waiting to see happens on doomsday which is the 15th of May.

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