If you use Facebook Messenger, this is why you should change


If you’re one of the 1.3 billion people who use Facebook Messenger, a powerful new campaign from WhatsApp along with comments from Facebook itself should convince you it’s time to go. In the meantime, some startling new data, released today, should tell you which messaging alternative you should use instead.

WhatsApp deserves real credit for popularizing secure messaging – it’s put end-to-end encryption in more hands than anyone. But, despite the claim that “security and privacy are in our DNA”, WhatsApp has been rightly criticized for collecting too much user metadata—data about our data. The amount of this information shared with Facebook is secondary to the fact that it should not be collected in the first place.

WhatsApp is now fighting back, using its security and privacy credentials to stem the backlash from Facebook and the wave of users installing Signal and Telegram. “Everything you share on WhatsApp stays between you”, is the message. “That’s because your personal messages are protected by end-to-end encryption and that will never change.”

This is all a warning for Facebook Messenger users. By all accounts, this is one messaging platform you should avoid. If you think WhatsApp collects too much data, just check the table below for Messenger. If WhatsApp’s data collection caused a backlash, what about this? And, worse, Facebook admits to monitoring the actual content of your posts to ensure compliance with its policies.

We saw this risk in practice when security researchers Tommy Mysk and Talal Haj Bakry discovered that Facebook Messenger captured links sent between users, and even downloaded attachments and file shares sent between users. This invasive practice has now been stopped in Europe, given data protection laws, but not elsewhere.

Messenger’s most critical issue is its lack of end-to-end encryption by default, which WhatsApp just pointed out in an update for all of its users. WhatsApp cannot send server-side link previews or download attachments and private links, nor can it monitor content. As it says, “we cannot read or listen to your personal conversations”.

But Messenger can and does. Remember, we’re talking about data-hungry Facebook. If you’re still using Facebook Messenger, you really need to change.

And so, if you’re still using Messenger, your best option is probably to switch to WhatsApp, which, despite recent headlines, is safe and secure to use and probably installed on the phones of most people you know. A new report from the Wandera team, released today, suggests that despite the backlash from Facebook, WhatsApp traffic is holding up. Wandera looked at actual app usage on the devices it monitors, forget install numbers, how much usage has changed as this WhatsApp backlash has unfolded.

“Our service is specifically focused on mobile app intelligence,” Michael Covington of Wandera told me. “It allows us to monitor threats in the various applications that users install on their devices. [and] has visibility into how and when these applications are communicating on the network; it allows us to see if individual apps are actually being used… It has a really good mix of corporate and personal devices.

The headlines are that Signal has jumped over 85% corn WhatsApp usage remained stable. There’s no discernable change in its growth trend from September to January – at least not across Wandera’s entire sample – it’s dipped slightly but has since recovered. Wandera’s data on Telegram is less reliable, given the way traffic is recorded, but Telegram told me that its daily and monthly active users, as well as its overall traffic, have all increased by 30% since last September. .

I have argued all along that users are ill advised to jump from WhatsApp unless and until they understand the differences between the different alternatives. As an example, there is absolutely no point in leaving WhatsApp for security and privacy reasons and using Telegram instead, which is a less secure alternative. Similarly, leaving Messenger for WhatsApp will make your content safer and more secure.

Facebook told me that Messenger’s traffic is also growing, despite the privacy label backlash and the alarming data collection that Messenger admits. It is a surprise.

A good example of a Messenger issue was the leaked link last October, with the disclosure that it was monitoring user content. “After three months of our link previews article,” Mysk told me, “I wanted to check if Messenger and Instagram were still downloading huge files from shared links in their respective private chats. Facebook has disabled previews Facebook’s approach to link previews obviously violates data protection regulations in the EU, namely the GDPR.”

Looking at the traffic data for the various messaging platforms, Signal seems to be the winner, based on its recent increase, but that was on a much smaller basis compared to the others. More notable is the fact that WhatsApp seems to be holding its own.

“I think it’s too early to assess the impact this ‘privacy awakening’ will have on WhatsApp,” Covington told me. “Our data speaks volumes about WhatsApp’s entrenchment in consumer and business communities; all you need is a few people to hang on to, and it prevents all the well-meaning, privacy-conscious users from moving on entirely. I think that’s what Facebook expects from its users.

MORE FORBESWhatsApp Backlash-Stop using signal or telegram until you change these 4 critical settings

The fact that users aren’t changing is why Facebook isn’t taking action to fix problems with Messenger. Another reason why it’s time to quit. Last week, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg again promised that Messenger would be end-to-end encrypted. Ultimately. “The most important aspect of privacy and security,” he told analysts on his fourth quarter earnings call, “is that your conversations should stay between you. That means your conversations should always be end-to-end encrypted and should go away when you’re done with them.

But last year Facebook told me there was no target date they could share for adding end-to-end encryption to Messenger, that the timing “is consistent with what we said since launch – that it’s going to take time and we’re committed to getting it right Last week, despite stating the need for such security, Zuckerberg was only saying that encryption is “the direction in which we are heading with Messenger.” And today, again, Facebook confirmed to me that there is still no update on the timing.

And so, if you’re a Facebook Messenger user, you should make the switch – you can use WhatsApp if that’s the easiest. Facebook’s biggest messenger is much better and more secure, and its user base is holding up. If you use Telegram, here’s a guide to setting it up securely. And if you use WhatsApp, take the time to consider the alternatives. My advice is to run WhatsApp and Signal in parallel – and recommended security settings for both can be found here: (Signal/WhatsApp).


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