Facebook's Confusing Stance On WhatsApp Privacy Policy Drives Users To Rival Signal

Sometimes it is not what you say, or even how you say something. Rather, it is what you do not say that can speak the loudest, or be of the biggest concern. And so it goes with Facebook's recently updated privacy policy for WhatsApp, a cross platform messaging service that became massively popular because of its focus on privacy.

Facebook seems to have shot itself in the foot, however, when last week it announced a revised policy that will effectively force users to accept Facebook data collection through the app. The policy goes into effect next month (February 8), and as you might imagine, not everyone is happy about the changes. Quite the opposite.

This prompted Facebook to post a WhatsApp FAQ related to the updated privacy policy. In it, the company reiterates that WhatsApp cannot see your private messages or hear your calls, and neither can Facebook. Likewise, the FAQ says...
  • What'sApp does not keep logs of who everyone is calling
  • WhatsApp cannot see your shared location and neither can Facebook
  • WhatsApp does not share your contacts with Facebook
  • WhatsApp groups remain private
  • You can set your messages to disappear
  • You can download your data
That is all fine and dandy, but what still has users concerned is that Facebook did not outline in the FAQ. Specifically, what data Facebook will collect through WhatsApp, as opposed to what data it will ignore.

Also troubling is what was a contradiction in Facebook's own policy when the FAQ first went up. In one breath, the company says WhatsApp and Facebook both can't see your location, and then later on in the article, it originally stated, "We collect and use precise location information from your device with your permission when you choose to use location-related features, like when you decide to share your location with your contacts or view locations nearby or locations others have shared with you."

That has since been edited out, but is troubling (and confusing) that it was there in the first place. All of this has prompted users to seek refuge elsewhere. Earlier this week, Elon Musk hailed Signal over WhatsApp, and that is quickly becoming the go-to messaging service.

Signal Tweet

At present, Signal is the top free app at both the Apple App Store and the Google Play Store, according to Apptopia's tracking of such things. Signal is another chat client with end-to-end encryption, with claims that it can't read messages or listen to calls, and neither can anyone else.

"Privacy isn't an optional mode—it's just the way that Signal works," Signal states on its website. It also lists prominent figures such as Edward Snowden and Jack Dorsey among its users.