Are you an active WhatsApp user?
I am sure you are. Because who isn’t.
Whatsapp is one such messaging application, which is used by people of any age group as well as nationality. Today, this app has a user base of more than 2 billion in 180 countries. Whether it’s kids or senior citizens, everyone uses it.
Why do most people use Whatsapp?
The reason for the huge popularity and customer base of Whatsapp is
- It is easy to use
- It is a free messaging app that lets you interact with people around the world without paying any fee.
This app has surely become a part of our lives.
Surely, WhatsApp lets people stay connected to their friends and families living far away from them, but is it really safe to use?
In past years, this app has been caught in many controversies. Whether it is data breaches or circulating provocative messages, WhatsApp has seen it all.
Here we are summarizing the top controversies WhatsApp has seen in all these years.
Many people opposed this accept or leave condition and further privacy issues were raised all around the world. Some people switched to Telegram or Signal (the app which was endorsed by Elon Musk himself). After facing severe backlash, WhatsApp postponed its update to 15 May 2021 for giving its users time to grasp things, understand the policy and then only accept.
2. Private group chats data leaked on Google
What if you open your family group chat and find some unknown element spamming your chat with inappropriate content?
Well, it really happened with some users in 2019. Reportedly, anybody could find group chat links and join with some basic google search of “chat.whatsapp.com”.
In March 2020, Whatsapp fixed this bug by including a no-index tag on all the deep link pages and instructing Google to not index these chats.
3. Mobile number of WhatsApp web users found on Google search
Users were just recovering from group chats leaked controversy, just then another bug was reported.
Whatsapp web application allegedly indexed personal mobile numbers on Google search.
This was a major data breach. Due to Whatsapp’s easy operation and massive user base, many working professionals were using the desktop version of Whatsapp. And with the right search query, hackers could get their personal numbers on Google very easily. Though the search result is only their number, not their name. But with truecaller, it is a child-play to find the owner.
4. Jeff Bezos’ account hacked
It shocked the whole world when Amazon’s founder Jeff Bezos’ account was hacked and data from his iPhone started siphoning allegedly by the Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman. Though Saudi government denied all the allegations.
It was probably the biggest controversy WhatsApp has ever faced. When the mighty Amazon founder’s account is not secure, then how common naive WhatsApp users can assure their data safety.
5. Fake news
An exponential rise was seen in mob lynchings and killings in India because of the circulation of unauthorized news on Whatsapp. The Indian government also warned WhatsApp about the same by sending them notices about looking into the matter seriously.
Can you ignore all these loopholes in this popular messaging app?
No, these are some major concerns and with everything becoming digital, yours as well as your kids’ online safety is at stake.
But Whatsapp has become an indispensable part of everyone’s life. From sharing assignments of kids to helping you stay connected with your family, Whatsapp does it all. So, you can’t just stop using it completely.
Then what is the alternative?
Most of you can’t uninstall Whatsapp but you can safeguard yourself and your kids from its ill effects by keeping in mind these simple steps:-
- Review app permissions you give to this messaging app. If possible, allow it to access only contacts and storage.
- Avoid leaving passwords and your sensitive data on Whatsapp chats.
- Use parental control apps like Bit Guardian Parental Control to review your child’s as well as other family members’ activity. Install this app on yours as well as your family members’ device, and keep an eye on their online activity. So, you can warn them about getting into any trouble.
While you start following these precautions, you should also try to shift on other messaging apps bit by bit. Do not rely on one app too much. The permanent solution for data breaches lies in the hands of policymakers. They should introduce a strong data protection lawsuit and treat data breaching as a heinous crime. Then only these apps like Whatsapp will be more considerate towards the user’s privacy.