By 13 January 2021 | Categories: news


This week, Facebook made a move that has many WhatsApp users hurrying to other messaging services.

Affirming the maxim that when a service is free, the user is the product, the social media company gave WhatsApp users an ultimatum – either they consent to allowing their data to be shared with Facebook and its family of companies – presumably for advertising purposes - or stop using the app altogether from February 8th.

Facebook hasn’t exactly been shy about its willingness to data-mine its users, or about its focus on doing so in order to expand the bottom line. For those who weren’t expecting it though, it may still have come as a surprise, with WhatsApp dishing up an in-app notice that users have to accept their new terms or forfeit their access.

Thankfully, in 2021, WhatsApp’s two billion users have options, namely Telegram or Signal. The former is just as good if not better than WhatsApp (we have been using it for months, and will continue to do so), the latter has privacy and encryption features that rival WhatsApp in some respects.

More specifically, the new terms will enable WhatsApp to share data such as a user’s profile status, login activity, contact list, purchases, and financial information. Furthermore, the company clarified that the new privacy terms will only apply to people interacting with companies on WhatsApp Business. What that means is that private chats with friends and family would still be private.

That, however, is not really the point – the heavyhanded way in which the ultimatum was issued has left many scrambling for a WhatsApp alternative nonetheless.

Furthermore users aren’t the only ones looking to how to pivot away from WhatsApp  - companies are doing  so as well. FlySafair, for example, reported that it would be launching a support channel on Telegram this week due to Facebook’s move.

This is significant, since it has been two years since the low cost airline  launched functionality that enabled customers to both receive boarding passes and access customer support via WhatsApp.

“The platform was an immediate hit, and we have a lot of customers actively using it, but we realise that many may have concerns regarding these recent updates,” commented Kirby Gordon, the Chief Marketing Officer at FlySafair.

Along with the customer service facility on Telegram, FlySafair affirmed that a Telegram Boarding Pass solution is also in development.

“Details of one’s travel plans are obviously deeply personal and we are required to use a fair deal of private information to effect bookings, so it’s essential that our customers feel comfortable with the channel we offer,” explained Kirby.

Right now, it is safe to say that many likely don’t feel comfortable with either Facebook or WhatsApp.   


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