Article by Rabbi Mordechai Lightstone: Recent developments with social media and messaging apps have caused a lot of confusion. After consulting professionals, here are some points that can help clean up.
By Rabbi Mordechai Lightstone – Director of Tech Tribe
With the latest developments in social media and messaging apps – especially Whatsapp with its change in terms of service – a number of people have reached out to me to clarify what exactly is going on.
And there’s a lot of confusion out there. So I took a moment to examine the security and confidentiality professionals in the Tech Tribe community about what best practices with WhatsApp should be. While it is ultimately based on my personal reading about things, the following is an overview of important points:
The update to WhatsApp̵
There is considerable discussion now about recent political developments and how they intersect with social media. These problems can be / feel very important. But they are not connected to WhatsApps update.
This is not new – WhatsApp has been tied to Facebook since 2016.
Two years after purchasing WhatsApp, Facebook began integrating the app into their ecosystem – sharing metadata and other details like the one with its other apps. Facebook is not free, it makes money by selling you ads, and it sells you ads based on the abundant amount of information you share with it. (That’s why you get birthright ads)
Facebook does not read your messages.
Whatsapp continues to use end-to-end encryption. (It uses Signals encryption system) So your messages cannot be seen by Mark Zuckerberg. They can be seen by someone looking over your shoulder.
If you really do not want to share info with Facebook, deleting WhatsApp is not enough!
Since all these apps collect mountains of background information about us – removing WhatsApp without removing Instagram, Facebook, Messenger, etc. Does not have the desired effect of preventing Facebook from collecting all the juicy data you give them – and messages on these apps . is not encrypted end-to-end.
Once we’ve talked together – there are many other security features:
Google, Amazon, Apple, the credit card you have to maximize your points. . . they collect all TONS of information about you. Did you know that Google can create a map of where you travel based on your phone usage? Target was able to find out that a girl was pregnant before she told her family. Do you use two-factor authentication and strong passwords? (ideally something long, unique to each site – or with a service like Lastpass) There’s a lot out there worth knowing that is of direct importance to your online security. Much of it is, in my opinion, much more important than giving data to Facebook.
There are definitely stronger options out there:
Signal is highly recommended by the experts. This is always important because there are different app options. If privacy is your new thing, there are exciting opportunities to explore. Telegram does not use your environmental information to sell you ads, but is considered less secure than both Signal and WhatsApp.
But for your messaging needs, WhatsApp is really fine for most people:
Really, WhatsApp works great for just about any communication you make about it. It has end-to-end encryption and is in line with data sharing, virtually all the services we use take from us. There have been no new developments in any of this to be new reasons to turn it off.