If you are an ardent user of social media then you would know at least something about the new WhatsApp terms of use. These terms have sparked global debate and have even seen some interesting consumer behaviour. In this article, I will look at some of the notable talking points on this whole issue. I would love for you to share your thoughts with us in the comments once you are done reading the article.

WhatsApp Updates Its Term Of Use

Most of you by now must have received an ultimatum from WhatsApp, I did. I obviously cannot quote the full policy update since it is around 9000 words long. I will just summarize what the new terms of use entail. The new terms of use literally force one to accept that their personal data can be shared. It is either you agree or come on the 8th of February you will not be able to use WhatsApp anymore. It is an unprecedented and shocking policy change if you ask me! By ‘shared’ I mean that it will be shared with Facebook and all its other subordinate companies. (At least that is what they say; we will never really know the entirety of the list of who they will share with or to). By ‘personal data’ I am referring to things like contact number, your location, transaction history, settings, who you communicate with, when, what time, and so on.

People’s Reactions – Migrations To Telegram And Signal

People did not take the time to migrate from WhatsApp. It comes as no surprise since if you are not on-board with the new terms of use you just have to leave the platform. People are migrating to either Telegram or Signal. One of the big reasons why people started migrating to Signal was Elon Musk. You have got to give it to the man; he is extremely powerful and influential. Bear in mind also that Elon Musk is not a fan of Facebook – he even removed his pages there about 3 years ago. Thus it is logical for him to have issues with WhatsApp’s new terms of use since the very reasons for which he left Facebook are still at play.

On the 7th of January, he simply tweeted, “Use Signal” – remember he has over 42 million followers on Twitter. Following his tweet, the 11th of January alone saw over 1 million people signing up on Signal. In fact, at some point, their registration portal actually crushed under overwhelming pressure from incessant new sign-ups. Ever since then, not less than 50K people are signing up daily. On the 12th of January Telegram reported that ever since the 9th of January 25 million people had signed up.

The other contributing factor is the fact that Trump’s accounts along with those of many in his camp were deactivated on Facebook and Twitter. Thus since WhatsApp is owned by Facebook people would no doubt be outraged. Given that a whole sitting president’s social media accounts could be deactivated people feel that their civil liberty rights are being taken away. No wonder why most people are heavily opposed to WhatsApp’s new terms of use.

What WhatsApp Had To Say

Due to the many complaints the CEO of WhatsApp, Will Cathcart tweeted the following: “With end-to-end encryption, we cannot see your private chats or calls, just like Facebook. We are committed to this technology and are committed to protecting it globally. WhatsApp has updated its policy to be transparent and better describe additional features of how people interact with the business. In fact, 175 million people send messages to a business account on WhatsApp every day, and more and more people want to do it. In addition, businesses need tools to respond to these messages quickly and efficiently. Today it is too complex and features like Shops and Pay can help people buy things they want from companies on WhatsApp” I will expound more on what this means in basic simple terms later as the article progresses.

Why Is WhatsApp Justifying This Move

Interestingly, WhatsApp says that it is the users that stand to benefit from these new terms of use. They say that businesses will benefit immensely from them. They say that the new terms will enable consumers and businesses to communicate more effectively. They also pointed out that making payments will also be made smoother. The sharing of data with e.g. Facebook, they say that it is meant to help make it easy for businesses to advertise directly to consumers on WhatsApp. Kind of ironic I can say. Why? It is because their pretext is that informed decisions are made by insights drawn from empirical data. Thus making your data available makes it easy for algorithms to operate in a way that streamlines interactions between existing and prospective consumers with businesses.

Should You Trust That??

Logically that sounds sensible but the big problem is that your personal data can be used for much more. In fact, the real crux of the new terms of use can be extremely sinister reasons. If you closely follow world developments then you would clearly understand what I am driving at. I do not wish to get into that subject though; it is heavily contentious. Overall, people are not thrilled with having data shared especially when they cannot ascertain who exactly it is being shared with and for what. Most of you remember the Cambridge Analytica scandal – too much of a precedent for people to ignore.

Not many Zimbabweans do paid ads on Facebook so they probably will not so-called ‘benefit’ from the new terms. The major reason why most Zimbabweans cannot migrate from WhatsApp is the issue of bundles packages. The negative effects of the new terms of use might not be immediately apparent but trust me it will become clear in the not so distant future. I guess you can also see now why having homegrown solutions matters, consider China for example.