You probably read about Whatsapp rolling out new terms and conditions that forces you to share your personal data with Facebook. This info includes profile names, pictures, numbers (i.e. your contact list), status messages, last seen online time stamps, IP addresses, carrier and network info, and diagnostic data that gets collected from app logs.
It will show as a pop-up when you open Whatsapp if you are on the latest version. While you can get rid of the notification before agreeing, you need to agree to it by 8th February or your account will get deleted.
I’ve mulled about getting rid of Whatsapp for several years and now with these new Ts and Cs, I think it’s time to just do it. But I want to be clear about something. I am not comfortable with giving up my personal info tied to my primary device. So my solution is to give them data that’s not personal.
I’ve decided to use my freebie FNB SIM card for Whatsapp instead, on my spare Android that I use for testing apps to write about. This card remains active because based on your eBucks level, you get free data, minutes and SMSes every month regardless so there’s always activity.
The Android phone I will be using has no personal info about me, what sites I visit, what I’m shopping for etc. I use it occasionally to read links from Twitter etc. or simply use Chrome in incognito mode. I will agree to their Ts and Cs on a non-personal device.
I will delete Whatsapp off my iPhone but add my spare number to the groups I’m on with close friends and family on the Android. This is a solution that I think will work best for me, based on having a spare SIM and phone. I am not telling all of you to go out and buy another phone just to use Whatsapp or saying it’s the only solution.
Use your phone for work and don’t agree to the Ts&Cs?
My advice to anyone who uses their personal smartphones for work for essential groups that you need to be on or Facebook pages that you run – ask your company to provide a business phone or if you’re self-employed, buy a cheaper handset (you can get Android phones for all budget types) simply to run your business on.
I think we’ve reached a time where you have to separate personal from business. I’ve seen loads of replies saying that it’s so difficult to not use Whatsapp. I’ve put my foot down in meetings saying I don’t agree to be added to Whatsapp groups because I don’t use WA for work. People can email me, or call me if it’s urgent. These are my boundaries; my terms. My mental wellbeing will always come first.
We’re all fatigued and going through burnouts from WFH during the pandemic because the lines have blurred. Who said messaging me after hours is acceptable? Or sending a Whatsapp to ask if I received an email (the horror). I received so many of these in lockdown. There’s no better time to separate personal from business. Switch off when you log off.
Other messaging apps
When I posted a tweet about deleting Whatsapp, people assumed I was looking for alternatives or I found something better. I did not. I found a way to not give personal data to Facebook. Let’s not confuse the two.
That said, I’ve had Signal and Telegram for years; when nobody was on it. My Telegram has been useful for getting notifications that my contacts have joined. My family are all on iPhone so we’ve created groups on iMessage and some on Telegram. Amazed how quickly they set those up when I informed them I decided to delete Whatsapp.
Otherwise, I’m available on SMS. Fun fact: I still use SMS when I can’t get hold of a new professional contact telephonically.
Welcome to Wired to the Web. My name is Nafisa Akabor and I’m a technology journalist covering business and consumer tech for the last 14 years. I’m passionate about start-ups, smartphones, mobile payments, travel tech and electric cars. ✉️ firstname.lastname@example.org