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Africa: WhatsApp – It May Suck, but We Must Liberate Ourselves From Data Capture

Despite a rush by millions of people to download alternative messaging services Telegram and Signal, I suspect the majority of people will accept the latest WhatsApp terms of use anyway.

First published in the Daily Maverick 168 weekly newspaper.

It’s human nature – and Mark Zuckerberg knows it. The Facebook CEO has been pushing the boundary of what is private and what is permissible for the past 15 years.

Remember the outcry when he said, in 2010, that “people have really gotten comfortable not only sharing more information and different kinds, but more openly and with more people”. What he failed to mention was that Facebook had been consistently pushing its users – pushing us – into more and more lax attitudes to our own privacy. “That social norm is just something that’s evolved over time,” he concluded.

WhatsApp’s latest privacy warning is finally the straw that broke the public’s trust.

The messaging app stunned its two billion users earlier this month with a warning that it was moving its servers to Facebook and integrating the way it stored user data.

As a strict condition of its acquisition of WhatsApp in 2012, Facebook agreed to keep the data…


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