After the unsuccessful announcement of its new guidelines, WhatsApp is still busy collecting the misunderstandings and misinformation that have been circulating since then. In a blog post the Facebook subsidiary announced that it wanted to use the app itself. The entry humbly begins with the statement that they had “thought about how we could have better communicated the changes” – and it ends with barely disguised taunts against two of the most important competitors: Telegram and Signal.
Some media and individual users had incorrectly interpreted the documents in such a way that WhatsApp wanted to share more data with Facebook in the future – also in Germany – in order to be able to target advertising on the social network and generate friendship suggestions from telephone contacts.
What exactly WhatsApp wants to do in the future, however, the company has not yet collected and explained on a clear page. The information available so far is spread across several blog posts, such as this, this and this.
The new rules were originally supposed to apply from February 8th, now the deadline is May 15th. WhatsApp has extended the deadline in order to clear up the misunderstandings. However, users of WhatsApp must agree to the rules by May 15, otherwise they can no longer use the app to chat or make calls.
Involuntarily weird statements from WhatsApp
It is the goal of WhatsApp, the blog post says, “that everyone knows the background to how much we advocate end-to-end encryption and that everyone trusts our commitment to the privacy and security of our users.” . That is why WhatsApp will use its status function “to share our values and announcements directly in WhatsApp”.
Then the text becomes weird involuntarily. First of all, it is said that WhatsApp wants to “try even more to ensure clarity among our users and to prevent misunderstandings.” On the one hand, “even more” is pure PR talk because it implies that the efforts made so far have been pretty good. On the other hand, nothing is explained in more detail in the blog post itself than before, it is only linked to several other blog posts.
Next, it says in the text that WhatsApp will display a banner in the app in the coming weeks, “which provides more details on this so that users can find out more at their own pace.” As useful as the banner may be because it reaches users where they are, namely in the app: the supposed generosity is a matter of course. What should the alternative to “your own pace” be? That WhatsApp sets the pace at which people deal with the new regulations?
Swipes at Telegram and Signal
In the end, WhatsApp insists on pointing out the (sometimes only temporary) problems of other messenger apps: “We heard some of our competitors falsely claiming that they could not see messages from users,” says the Blog post. Apparently Telegram is meant, as can be seen from the next sentence: “However, if an app does not offer standard end-to-end encryption, this means that the operator can still read your messages.”
With Telegram, unlike WhatsApp, chats are actually not end-to-end encrypted by default. Only if the interlocutor explicitly agrees “Secret Chat” start, Telegram itself cannot decrypt the content.
In January, immediately after the changes planned by WhatsApp were announced (and in some cases misunderstood), Telegram according to their own information registered 25 million new users in just three days, reaching a total of half a billion accounts.
The Signal app has also allegedly benefited from the anger over WhatsApp. The ones from Encryption experts Moxie Marlinspike The application developed temporarily became the most frequently downloaded app in the app stores, even if the total number of users is currently not likely to exceed 50 million. Marlinspike criticizes Facebook’s data-driven business model and has Signal is particularly data-efficient designed.
WhatsApp now taunts back in the blog post: »Other apps claim to be better because they have even less information than WhatsApp. We believe that people want apps that are both reliable and secure «. The word “reliable” is probably an allusion to the capacity problems Signal had at times when it was registering so many new users.
WhatsApp in any case only needs “a limited amount of data” for safe and reliable operation, WhatsApp writes. “We try to make well-considered decisions in this regard.” That sounds like: always trying.