Cool your jets Telegram and Signal, Zimbos are never leaving WhatsApp

   
18 comments

When I was greeted by the new terms and conditions dialogue from WhatsApp I quickly opened a browser and decided to take a look. A few paragraphs in and I was incensed and shouting angrily at my phone as if Mark Zuckerberg could hear me (he probably can as you will see below). Next, I shared the outrageous developments with my friends.

This sums it up

My best friend was incredulous. Who cares about such stuff anyway was the gist of his argument. He is right, like most Zimbabweans and indeed most people on earth, he never reads such stuff. He just clicks/taps the agree or OK button and quickly gets back to his chatting or whatever it is the software does. Like who has ever read Microsoft’s, Adobe’s, Apple’s, Google’s or Android’s terms and conditions. We just tap agree and be done with it.

The impending doom of WhatsApp has been greatly exaggerated

https://twitter.com/telegram/status/1348266599216795648

This is just one of the many reasons why Zimbabweans or people in other countries are not going to leave WhatsApp in droves. Except for bearded weirdoes like Richard Stallman and gauche privacy-conscious crowds, nobody is going anywhere especially given the many incentives that will persuade many to stay. Cynical as ever, Facebook is banking on this fact.

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I, woke as I am about privacy issues, am not even on Signal. I have been a member of Telegram for many years now though I joined out of curiosity I have come to love it. Since the WhatsApp announcement last week I have seen a trickle turn into a steady stream of people from my extensive contact book joining Telegram. They are not leaving WhatsApp, they just want a small house.

A few weirdos have also been talking about forming a Techzim community group on Signal. Before you hope onto their train you should know that these guys also talked about forming a (Google/Android) Messages group. Wonder what happened to that? Telegram the second biggest dedicated chat app has less than 20 people roaming in the Techzim group there. These guys just love technology so much they are probably in some Sasai group too. Does Sasai have groups?

The bundle hurdle

Apart from the fact that Zimbabweans just don’t care about their privacy at all, there is the famous bundle hurdle. WhatsApp not only has a pretty well-established community, phone ecosystem including certified WhatsApp installers, it also gets some bundle love. You can buy cheap WhatsApp bundles from all three networks. It’s the same in a lot of countries where you sometimes even get free WhatsApp if you sign up with a mobile network operator or Internet Service Provider.

This is a pretty big incentive that drives usage. Its effects, however, may have been overstated by others. True, there are no Telegram and Signal bundles but there are Sasai bundles. These have probably helped the app gain some market share but here is proof that data bundles are not the fairy dust that will bring you guaranteed success. The app’s reception has been lacklustre and we are being kind here.

Apple opens a can of worms

Now, to those who have been furious like me, you need to cool down too. Recently Apple opened a can of worms when it promulgated a rule requiring apps to disclose what kind of data they collect if they still want to be a part of the App Store. The results are pretty sobering. Here are the four most popular chat apps and the information they collect:

All the data WhatsApp collects

  • Device ID
  • User ID
  • Advertising Data
  • Purchase History
  • Coarse Location
  • Phone Number
  • Email Address
  • Contacts
  • Product Interaction
  • Crash Data
  • Performance Data
  • Other Diagnostic Data
  • Payment Info
  • Customer Support
  • Product Interaction
  • Other User Content

Compared to what Facebook Messenger Collects

  • Purchase History
  • Other Financial Info
  • Precise Location
  • Coarse Location
  • Physical Address
  • Email Address
  • Name
  • Phone Number
  • Other User Contact Info
  • Contacts
  • Photos or Videos
  • Gameplay Content
  • Other User Content
  • Search History
  • Browsing History
  • User ID
  • Device ID
  • Product Interaction
  • Advertising Data
  • Other Usage Data
  • Crash Data
  • Performance Data
  • Other Diagnostic Data
  • Other Data Types
  • Browsing History
  • Health
  • Fitness
  • Payment Info
  • Photos or Videos
  • Audio Data
  • Gameplay Content
  • Customer Support
  • Other User Content
  • Search History
  • Sensitive Info
  • iMessage
  • Email address
  • Phone number Search history
  • Device ID

Now that is what I call some serious spying. That’s a lot of data but consider this: Facebook used to collect even more data including constantly keeping a tally of the apps you had installed. It’s how they ended up buying WhatsApp. They saw more and more people installing it on their devices.

Now to the point I wanted to make. If you have been cheerfully using Facebook and it’s invasive messenger service to chat with your friends and family you have no business complaining about or threatening to leave WhatsApp. This change is not a big deal. Given the spyware Facebook apps on your phone, it’s unlikely Facebook will learn any new secrets from you anyway. I predict most Zimbos are more than OK with the spying from Facebook already.

There is a Shona proverb that says: If you are thinking of feasting on dog meat, then you should probably feast on the fatest and juiciest dog you can find.

Apps are already spying on us why waste our time and energy trying to care about privacy and who collects what-assume they collect everything. When we received unsolicited campaign messages from the government after they stole our private phone numbers somewhere we just shrugged too. We know the government knows our numbers already so why how can it be worse.

Telegram and Signal collect very little information

In case you want to be an idiot and really care about your privacy-it’s true. Telegram and Signal are indeed ideal for you. They collect very little information about you as revealed by Apple.

The little information that Telegram collects

  • Contact Info
  • Contacts
  • User ID

Signal collects nothing

  • None. (The only personal data Signal stores is your phone number, and it makes no attempt to link that to your identity.)

We will use WhatsApp

There is not going to be any exodus from WhatsApp in Zimbabwe. WhatsApp is everything. It’s the internet. It’s where we do our business. Where we share laughs and exchange ideas. It is where it begins and ends. There is no Telegram for the masses. We haven’t even heard of Signal for the most part.

So cool your jets Telegram and Signal. Enough with the flirting. We are married to WhatsApp.


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Comments 18

Imi vanhu musadaro
a week ago

For someone who is “woke about privacy issues”, it sounds like you are trying to convince yourself that your decision to stick with WhatsApp is wise and unavoidable despite being enraged by the policy changes. Why be enraged if there is no difference to you at the end of the day?

Agreeably, Zimbos may not care about their privacy, but Telegram and Signal may continue to gain traction because of network effects. If a Zimbo in the diaspora (where privacy is taken more seriously) quits WhatsApp, it follows that a number of locally based Zimbos will join that person’s alternative in order to communicate with that person. Each conversion thus multiples as it goes.

And, bundles are no longer the underpinning of mobile communication options. Given the increase in people working from home, many are on WiFi where bundles are irrelevant. This has actually seen more people who are available on WhatsApp when on WiFi only.

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    Controller
    a week ago

    6 & 9

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    Brian
    a week ago

    On point

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    Garikai Dzoma
    a week ago

    Fair points you will not this article is not about long term trends, these are always difficult to forecast. Ask Mixit and Nimbuzz. The assertion here is that there is unlikely going to be a seismic change in the short term. You are also assuming that people can only be on one app. Even if people in the diaspora move to another app they would still keep WhatsApp even if it’s only so they can keep in touch with their family and friends back home. The diaspora population in privacy-conscious countries is much smaller unless you are saying South Africa is a privacy-councious domain. Their chances of being able to induce nationwide change are slim.

    Also people who are already on FB need not be bothered about the latest changes. I have to say that not because I am trying to convince myself. The thing is FB already has the data anyway.

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      Imi vanhu musadaro
      a week ago

      People tend to have a primary communication app and that tends to be governed by the number of people you can reach on that app. Noone wants to be juggling chats across apps.

      It’s poor reasoning that Facebook already has our data. If they did, they would not need to change their privacy policy would they?

      I don’t think you are as “woke” as you have convinced yourself you are.

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      Imi vanhu musadaro
      a week ago

      BTW: “never leaving”, is a long term forecast…

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    Art
    a week ago

    Meanwhile, some of us have formed family groups on Signal thanks to Elon Musk

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anony
a week ago

“Apart from the fact that Zimbabweans just don’t care about their privacy at all,”

Really now TechZim, really!

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    Tendi
    a week ago

    Agreed, the author refers to zimbos that are concerned about privacy as “stupid”. I guess he’s the same sort of guy that says wearing a mask is stupid because ultimately we’ll all get covid.

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Robbie
a week ago

Wtf…. How can you support your journalists insulting the public based on their concerns for privacy. This is a childish article written by a small minded person.

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Jameson Danda
a week ago

Its amazing you would call your audience idiots because of different opinions and viewpoints when it comes to their security concerns.Security is important, give the facts only and dont insult your audience.

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    Tafadzwa
    a week ago

    Agreed – what’s this authors issue? Is he here to educate or insult. Please techzim practice proof reading your journalists rants. Besides most tech savy Zimbabweans actually have telegram to communicate privately with the outside world. Just because the government and big corporates have turned a bling eye or even greenlighted privacy infringement doesn’t mean we should accept it. Your privacy is your right.

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Anonymous
a week ago

πŸ˜‚ πŸ˜‚ πŸ˜‚ πŸ˜‚ πŸ˜‚ TechZim manyora mvura apa

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Anonymous
a week ago

Who told you that we are not tech savvy? Don’t generalise matters because you never asked us what we use.

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Steve wonder
a week ago

Article yakadakwa boss

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always off topic
5 days ago

I think the author is right, at least about 2 things, first most people donot read the user policies, and most are not abandoning WhatsApp. All those throwing shade against the author because they feel insulted are not being honest. If mainstream media had not picked up this story, the situation would be different.
I remember some years back when a similar issue about privacy arose , this time regarding Google and their popular Gmail service. That time Google actually admitted that their Ad serving algorithms read emails, naturally there was a noticeable uproar from privacy advocates, but fast forward to now , its like who cares.
Also i would like to say, ever since the whole Cambrigde analytica debacle, i feel Facebook has been on the receiving end of unwarranted bad press. Sometimes i think Facebook is being “punished” because Americans blame it for some how aiding Trumps ascension to the presidency.

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    Anonymous
    5 days ago

    Clearly the username checks out – “always off topic” the shade thrown is because of overly opinionating an article and not just sticking to facts. Sure he could be right that most people done read TC’s but does that entitle him to label them as “stupid”?

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      always off topic
      4 days ago

      Hello, where in the article did the author call anyone stupid? Let me rephrase where is it even implied? It seems someone just read the comments only without reading the article. The article at best implies that most are ignorant about online privacy matters. Is this an insult or is it a fact.You, mr/mrs/miss anonymous even admit that this is true. And yes the article is opinionated because, ….well because it is an OPINION PIECE. WTF???

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