In the very unlikely case that you don’t know what I am talking about here is a rehash. Earlier this year, after an update, WhatsApp users around the world were confronted by a hostile message that more or less demanded that they accept WhatsApp’s new terms of service or leave the platform. Users had to agree to terms that would allow WhatsApp to share their metadata with the WhatsApp family i.e. Facebook and Instagram.
The initial deadline was 8 February 2021 after which those who had not agreed to the new terms would no longer be able to use WhatsApp. Users of the platform did not take kindly to these threats and ultimatums and it seemed like WhatsApp was going to face an exodus of users.
Like any “evil” tech behemoth, they decided to change tack. They would push back the deadline and rewrite the message asking people to agree to be spied on. They also agreed not to enforce the requirements on European WhatsApp user-the governments there have strict rules known as the GDPR that makes enforcing the new terms impossible. That seems to have worked and talk of abandoning the platform has died down.
You need to agree to be spied on soon or ..
The new deadline is 15 May and there just about 10 days left for you to make the decision. There is really only one decision to make here, unfortunately. African governments are busy shutting down the internet, vilifying social media, trying to enrich themselves and stay in power to waste time passing laws like the GDPR. Without government intervention resistance is futile.
So just do the right thing tap on the accept button and be done with it. There is no way you are going to survive without using WhatsApp, not in Zimbabwe where everything happens on WhatsApp. Be honest to yourself- there is no way you are leaving WhatsApp.
If you have not yet accepted to be spied on by WhatsApp, you will get a subtle banner at the top of your chats. You can close it, but it will regularly appear up there until you do the right thing and accept the inevitable. Again resistance is futile. It’s a matter of when you are tapping accept and not if you are going to tap that button.
What’s going to happen if you don’t? Nothing until the 15th of May when you will no longer be able to send messages to others or participate in your favourite group chats. Then, of course, you will just accept the terms anyway and WhatsApp will welcome you back to its fold like a lost sheep. So why agonise about it? Why do you keep putting it off?
Why is WhatsApp doing this?
Two reasons. Money is the biggest of those. While WhatsApp is free, someone has to pay for the infrastructure and Mark Zuckerberg’s vacation and it’s almost certain Zimbabweans are not going to be doing that. During the time when WhatsApp was on a subscription model of US$1 per year, Zimbabweans didn’t or couldn’t pay and that was during the USD dollar GNU era.
Instead WhatsApp has found something else to sell. Your data which they pawn off to businesses. These new terms will allow businesses to seamlessly spy on you across Facebook’s three major platforms. WhatsApp is using euphemisms in these new terms but basically that’s all it comes down to. Money.
The second reason why WhatsApp is doing this is because they can. Thanks to the ineptitude of governments across the world. Most of those people tasked with coming up with regulations have simply struggled to keep big tech businesses in check. A good number of them barely understand the general nature of how it all works let alone the specifics. Thanks to scandals such as the US elections and Cambridge Analytica regulators are waking up to the power and danger of bit tech.
Hopefully, someday these changes will be rolled back. Until then just agree to the new terms and get on with it.