Explained: WhatsApp Shot Itself in the Foot With the New Privacy Policy

Marketers must pay attention to the growth of Telegram and Signal as users continue to abandon WhatsApp

Photo by Christian Wiediger on Unsplash

WhatsApp users received a pop up informing them about the new privacy policy. While changes in privacy policies are common in the tech world, this one left users in shock. The new policy stated:

“By tapping agree, you accept the new terms and privacy policy which take effect on February 8, 2021. After this date, you’ll need to accept these updates to continue using WhatsApp.”

This new policy allows Facebook, which owns WhatsApp to have access to your data and share it.

According to the policy:

“We may use the information we receive from them, and they may use the information we share with them, to help operate, provide, improve, understand, customize, support, and market our Services and their offerings.”

Your data is now a free-for-all for Facebook and its subsidiaries.

This lead to unhappy users switching to Telegram and Signal, messaging apps with better security.

On January 9th, Signal was trending as the number one downloaded app in India, Germany, Austria, Switzerland, Finland, and Hong Kong.

Screenshot from Signal’s Twitter account

Telegram was happily delivering a few jabs to Facebook.

Screenshot from Telegram’s Twitter account

The co-founder of Telegram Pavel Durov claims that Facebook has dedicated a team to figure out why Telegram is so popular. It has 500 million active monthly users. He addresses the key differences between Telegram and WhatsApp in his Telegram channel.

The migration of WhatsApp users to Telegram and Signal are interesting developments. Marketers and entrepreneurs must pay close attention to this trend. It will present them with excellent business opportunities in the future.

End-To-End Encryption Is Here To Stay

Photo by Christian Wiediger on Unsplash

End-to-end encryption allows the data between the sender and the receiver to remain secure. This prevents third parties including internet service providers, government agencies, application service providers, and hackers from decrypting the data.

WhatsApp for years did not adopt end-to-end encryption. When they did, it was a faulty one. In May 2019, spyware from Israel was used to hack the data of several users.

The end-to-end encryption of WhatsApp does not apply if you are taking a backup of your chat.

In March 2019, Facebook admitted to storing the passwords of many of its users, dating all the way back to 2012. The report by Brian Krebs, to which Facebook responded, claims data of 600 million users were compromised.

With the new privacy policy being worded as an ultimatum, users will continue looking for alternative platforms.

Gen Z (born after 2000), who are digital natives, take data encryption seriously. Soon entering the workforce, they will likely demand more from tech companies. Hence, the importance of data security of a platform where we share private and financial information is vital.

Freedom and privacy are the unique selling point (USP) of apps in the future. Telegram restricts end-to-end encryptions to its secret chats. This means, theoretically, regular chats can be accessed on their servers. But Pavel Durov, the founder and ex-CEO of VK, a Russian social media company which he started, was dismissed from his position. He was exiled from Russia for refusing to hand over the data of Ukrainian protestors; thus one can expect Telegram to take privacy seriously.

Signal, in comparison, has additional security features. Sealed Sender allows a user to send a message only the recipient can decrypt.

Signal’s security has an enormous fan base. One major endorsement recently was by whistleblower Edward Snowden.

Screenshot from Edward Snowden’s Twitter account

Telegram and Signal are more trustworthy than WhatsApp for data privacy and security. Companies that users trust will attract customers without spending on marketing.

Facebook’s marketing spend was $9.9 billion in 2019. In contrast, Telegram spent a whopping $0 in acquiring 500 million users.

That is an impressive cost of customer acquisition. It shows that a product that understands the needs of its users and provides them with a safe experience will attract customers. Their users are marketers. It also suggests that users trust Telegram enough to spread the word about it.

Organic Marketing Will Revive

Photo by Lukas Blazek on Unsplash

Remember the good old days on social media when you posted on your business page with 10,000 followers and everyone saw it? Facebook and Instagram’s new algorithms killed organic reach.

Now, a page with 10,000 followers will be lucky if 500 people saw their posts. Imagine working hard to collect email addresses and then the service provider says: Well, you can mail 5% but for the remaining 95% you need to make an ad and boost your mail. What a bummer!

Users moving away from Facebook is splendid news for freelancers, writers, consultants, and professionals who work with tight budgets. Now you have another option besides email for 100% organic reach.

Telegram offers channels anyone can access, and groups that are private or public depending on your preferences. You do not have to depend on algorithms and be at the mercy of social media companies.

You will be in control of your channel and groups. A dedicated user base will result in greater engagement. More engagement means better sales potential. You will have access to a serious audience who care about their data privacy and security.

You may be wondering what the advantage is of using Telegram groups over WhatsApp groups. WhatsApp groups can have at most 256 members, and Telegram groups a whopping 200,000.

You will get back the benefits of interactive social media with the organic reach.

Telegram also has payment bots. This can help you send invoices and accept payments, making business transactions easier.

You can also conduct polls and quizzes on Telegram without worrying about the reach. For a messenger service, the features are perfect for reviving organic marketing.

Attachment Size a Clear Reason to Abandon WhatsApp

Photo by Luke Chesser on Unsplash

WhatsApp limits its audio and video file sharing to 16 MB. They allow up to 100 MB for documents. In contrast, Telegram allows up to 2 GB. This is a clear no contest.

Imagine the possibilities as an entrepreneur:

  • You can share recorded video conferences or webinars, which are more than an hour long.
  • You can share HD videos and presentations which will exceed 16 MB.
  • It can become an alternative video-sharing platform; you won’t have to wait to upload the video to YouTube or Instagram.
  • If you have a channel, you can share large audio files without having to upload them to a podcast.

The best part of this is you can use all the features of Telegram from multiple devices — phone, Android, iOS, desktop, and even a web browser simultaneously.

The desktop app is much easier to use and does not require your phone to be connected to the internet, unlike WhatsApp.

Besides, you get unlimited cloud storage on Telegram. These features along with greater security and respect for privacy make Telegram a clear winner.

Signal scores a victory over its competitors in security, but its features are limited. A signal group chat can have a maximum of 150 members, and the files shared must be less than 100 MB.

With a greater number of users migrating to Signal, I am sure they will add more features.

But for now, Telegram is the clear winner here.

As concerns over data security and privacy continue, it is clear WhatsApp has shot itself in the foot with the new privacy policy. As more users migrate to Signal and Telegram, both apps have emerged as worthy challengers to Facebook’s hegemony over social media. It makes sense to have both apps, but from a marketing perspective, Telegram is the most promising.

Written by

Founder: https://myrebelnutrition.com . Penn State alumnus.I write on health and nutrition, science, higher education and social media.

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