Concerned about Facebook’s disregard for your privacy?

The other day my younger brother said I must be the only person on the planet not on WhatsApp. Of course it’s a minor exaggeration but it did immediately make me think of this article on the BBC: How Facebook’s tentacles reach further than you think.

the data we give Facebook is used to calculate our ethnic affinity (Facebook’s term), sexual orientation, political affiliation, social class, travel schedule and much more.

Whilst WhatsApp is probably only a small part of their data gathering picture, you can be absolutely assured that Facebook are doing all they can to maximise the amount of data from your WhatsApp usage as they can, and tie it all in with your Facebook data profile to help continuing to build the best and most revealing data profile about you as they can.

And of course, when WhatsApp was purchased there were assurances that such things wouldn’t occur, but as is the case with companies like this, such pesky assurances can be easily discarded later on. In fact they were, and Facebook were fined over it.

But hey, a hundred million Euro penalty means nothing to Facebook compared with the value of increasing their data profile on you.

everything – from the links we post on Facebook, to the pages we like, to our online behaviour in many other corners of cyber-space that are owned or interact with the company (Instagram, WhatsApp or sites that merely use your Facebook log-in) – could all be entering a giant algorithmic process

What can you do?

The awesome thing about these services is that you really can just abandon them. All it takes is a few clicks/taps and you can start disengaging. Yeah all your friends are on WhatsApp, but if you are concerned about this stuff, why not openly talk to your friends about your concerns and offer an alternative. There are always alternatives.

I’m currently using Wire messenger and am totally happy with it. Fully end-to-end encrypted, free, no ads, and an easy to read and understand privacy policy. The company is headquartered in Switzerland (for better privacy protection); their servers in based in the EU. Their client code is open source (and they’re working to open-source their server code), you can sign up with an email address thereby avoiding having your phone number directly linked to your account.

So why not try it out? There’s nothing to lose, and an awful lot to gain.

Updated 2017-06-05 11:13:00
Corrected the text about where the company and its servers are based.