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Is Facebook Family A Strategic Information Partner To US?

Why do American companies get accepted so fast, far and wide? Can threats which seem invisible be completely ignored?

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Ever since WhatsApp launched its services in 2009 and began to be widely used as a de-facto mode of communication in several countries, many spectators have been wary of the free-messaging app.

Why did someone launch a free-messaging app that never had a monetization model in mind? Was it to keep the people who are eating you jobs busy?

What if we are easy to engage creatures and if damn easy to keep a major population of the world distracted that they cannot focus on work, education and other important things?

You might love to argue on this but to a lot many it looks like a strategic move, just the way the United States of America backed Ford and General Motors during the period of Recession in 2008, stating the reason that these two brands were the flag-bearers of a developed nation. But we might have little knowledge over the fact that these two companies are not only consumer automobile brands but defense manufacturer partners for America.

So, do you think it is big deal for someone to support a technological idea that serves as social media tool for billions around the world? Nah! Plus when the instrument can help in gathering deep seeded information & private like nobody else ever had!

Well, we live in the post- Snowden period so ignoring things like these can seriously injure our privacy rights. It's not about accusing someone about snooping but actually thinking about who is doing what, with what kind of objectives?

Remember when Facebook acquired WhatsApp in 2014!

Whatsapp was nearly five-years-old and a billion people were hit by the announcement. People roared about different perspectives on the deal like 'Why did Facebook choose to break the bank to WhatApp?', 'What is Facebook planning to do with WhatsApp?'

Interestingly, it was the largest acquisition done by Facebook and it bought the messaging service app spending 1/10th of its own market value. The deal closed at $19-20 billion and not surprisingly it was one of the biggest deals that the Silicon Valley had ever seen.

Some might say that the secret is not so much a secret, the answer is user growth. As over 500 million people use WhatsApp monthly and the service even today gets more than 1 million users per day. 77% of WhatsApp users are active daily, compared to Facebook's 62%. Additionally, WhatsApp users send 500 million pictures back and forth per day, about 150 million more than Facebook users.

Whilst the messaging app added end-to-end encryption, preventing any snoops or marketing mad men from reading texts, it will share certain data with Facebook, which bought WhatsApp. Ultimately, that means the messaging application will have to share phone numbers and consumer usage patterns with Facebook and its family companies (that it had acquired or partnered with in the past). The fact has been terrifying some & others hardly understand the consequences of such actions.

While Facebook claims that the move is to obviously enhance ones experience on social media site and to give its users better friend suggestions, it is fairly easy to judge what Mark Zuckerberg maybe actually interested in.

Even if for Facebook, user growth comes first and monetization later, it plans to row down the lane with WhatsApp for a shared mission of enhancing global connectivity via internet services and merge forces to accelerate growth for both companies.

But here's the catch

WhatsApp will help fuel Facebook growth in developing markets where internet connectivity is sparse but where WhatsApp is widely used. Facebook will then gain access to these mobile user bases. Connecting to WhatsApp users in these areas will also aid Facebook's initiative, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg's plan to implement internet access to the two-thirds of the world not yet online.

However, in the long run Facebook does believe it will profit from WhatsApp as phone calls will become obsolete and mobile messages shall reign. This is why Zuckerberg bought the app in a greater bid nearly doubling Google's bid. So, that he could the company out of the hands of other tech rivals.

Recently, just when announced plans to disclose user information to Facebook family, including phone numbers and other user data, it has raised eyebrows on privacy protection promises made by the company.

If bothered by the potential privacy issue, users have 30 days from agreeing to the terms to stop Facebook grabbing the data or the transfer of information. According to the privacy policy, that's possible by going to Settings > Account, though your reporter hadn't yet been offered the new terms and so could not change the settings, without which the trade practice would be termed as unfair and deceptive.

Well, if the data shared is all about consumption patterns of the user, it might not affect the WhatsApp users but it will definitely the Facebook users after the information will be transferred & connected to the Facebook profiles. People will be seeing better suggestions for friends, places to hangout and better advertising for shopping but who knows if it's even more than that. Agreed that WhatApp is storing your data but does it change anything if Facebook is?

What we are trying to point out here: WhatsApp is changing its policy as it begins building a moneymaking business after placing little emphasis on revenue for so long. The company plans to allow businesses to contact customers directly through its platform. A similar strategy is already being tested on Facebook Messenger, a separate messaging service Facebook owns.

The UK's data privacy regulator is investigating WhatsApp's recent changes with its privacy policy and as we speak about15 million internet users in the UK are joining a 'digital detox' community.

The controversial change to its terms and privacy policy is said to be the testing way for people to communicate with businesses in the near future and an effort to give users an experience without third-party banner ads and spammers.

A new data-transfer pact, known as the EU-US Privacy Shield, recently came into force but it is facing legal challenges as privacy campaigners remain concerned that data held in Europe could be improperly read by government agencies when moved to the United States. WhatsApp's new privacy policy may put it in the middle of this tussle, pushing the company to reassure concerned users about how Facebook may use their data.

When the mega-popular chat app rolled out end-to-end encryption, everyone gave its credit to Facebook, the company did it with a lot of pomp, as it made it a more transparent brand in the public eye. One billion of WhatsApp users went to bed happy and content that night, knowing little that their small and big secrets are safe on WhatsApp. In the meantime, heaps of previously held secrets eagerly started being shared with journalists via the brand-new encrypted channel. Felt the sarcasm, right?

To a regular user, encryption may still sound like gibberish term that struggles to understand fully, therefore in layman terms, encryption does not prevent your communication from being intercepted. However, in the case with WhatsApp encryption, security experts warn about several little details that you might have skipped like.

Metadata and holding Data Privately- WhatsApp gathers and stores infinite Metadata such as your phone numbers, the date and time stamps go along with the messages. So everything you care about is being collected: who you chat with, when you chat with them and how often, where you are, where your recipients are, the circles of people you know, the frequency and volume of your chats tells them that who are your best friends and whom are you just acquainted with.

In mass surveillance terms, Metadata is a more valuable than the contents of your chats. Metadata is so huge that it can allows non-human algorithms to establish inter-connectivity of the billion WhatsApp users, all over the world. Metadata is the library of human lives and combined with Facebook data, WhatsApp's wealth of information is a surveillance gold mine.

So would you trust it completely before you start using the messaging App?

Tags assigned to this article:
facebook whatsapp cyber security surveillance