WhatsApp desktop gets a major privacy upgrade, and that’s exactly what I was hoping for

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Well, we’ve almost reached the end of 2021. Like a storm, the WhatsApp privacy crisis that rocked the company earlier this year spilled into town and then spilled again. And what did the app learn? That’s a tough question to answer all at once, with a year giving enough time to make improvements to an app, but not enough time to see if they make a real change. Still, the latest update to the desktop version of WhatsApp is something I think we should be optimistic about for a number of reasons, as well as the direction WhatsApp has apparently started to take over the year.

The first thing to say, however, is this: The overwhelmingly clear message from users this year is that WhatsApp would do well to continue tweaking its platform with privacy-focused improvements. From the really awesome new upgrades for the Android and iPhone versions of the app to the quieter updates that add better usability: WhatsApp is a platform that still learns from its mistakes – and I think there should be. have a space to see these changes through.

Earlier this year, the red-faced WhatsApp executives had a lot of work to do when millions of people started ditching WhatsApp for Signal after the company attempted to enforce new privacy terms. Since then, the company has grafted on to restore its users’ trust after blowing themselves up from all angles, rolling out updates that make privacy at the center of the application’s offer.

For example, yesterday’s news that WhatsApp is working on direct privacy settings for its desktop version can only be welcomed. Currently, WhatsApp does not allow users to manage their privacy settings from the WhatsApp desktop app or from the WhatsApp web. WABetaInfo, the resident expert on all things WhatsApp, reports that this will be revamped following the recent addition of multi-device support, which helps “WhatsApp Desktop to be independent from your phone and sees the app introduce missing features, ”according to the report.

WhatsApp Desktop Privacy

(Image credit: WABetaInfo)

Cynics have suggested that privacy features like WhatsApp’s new desktop-based privacy controls amount to locking the stable door once the horse has locked itself. But unless the app suddenly announces that it has broken the “holy grail” of privacy (through what would surely be an opaque and highly suspicious statement), what must we continue?

The incremental WhatsApp privacy improvements that have been passed on to us throughout the year are the best barometer of change we have in place of the fully open source app like Signal – something that will never happen. To be clear: There is no doubt that Signal is the best app if privacy is what you value most – after all, the Signal protocol underpins WhatsApp’s encryption. But the focal point of privacy and convenience determines which app a user will use from WhatsApp to peer-to-peer messaging services.

WhatsApp is reborn

What I mean is that WhatsApp, despite its controversial update to its privacy policy in January, has not seen the prolonged slowdown in its daily growth of active users than one might have expected otherwise. Comparatively, the two beneficiaries of the mass exodus of WhatsApp users in January – Signal and Telegram – have now reported losing daily active users, with Signal seeing a loss of over 60% of its daily active users from January. on the best iPhone. and the best Android phones.

It’s not entirely clear why yet, but I would venture to assume that it has something to do with convenience versus privacy – and where that line falls for each of us. For most people, many of whom had existing WhatsApp contact groups and channels, switching to a new app was just a little … well … too much effort. If WhatsApp continues to sweeten things up with real privacy upgrades like the new desktop settings, then suddenly things don’t look so bad after all, although I’m sure some die-hard Signal fans might not agree.


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