So, it would appear that no sooner have Facebook decided to hand over an eye-watering amount of money to purchase the instant messaging service, WhatsApp, that some dumpling at the latter decides now is the time to implement an update. Which has brought it crashing down in a rather less expensive looking than $19 billion heap, for an unknown number of users.
This may prove to be another shot in the arm for Threema – a secure messaging platform – who have seen their user base in Germany double since the Facebook announcement. Threema say they use secure end to end encryption for all communications and their servers only have the public key, so even they can’t read your messages. This may explain the German trend as they don’t seem to much care for Facebook.
This is a shame. I admit that I love WhatsApp and use it all the time. The privacy issues are all the more perplexing when you consider the background of WhatsApp – “I grew up in a society where everything you did was eavesdropped on, recorded, snitched on,” its Ukrainian-born founder Jan Koum told Wired UK. “Nobody should have the right to eavesdrop, or you become a totalitarian state — the kind of state I escaped as a kid to come to this country where you have democracy and freedom of speech. Our goal is to protect it. We have encryption between our client and our server. We don’t save any messages on our servers, we don’t store your chat history. They’re all on your phone.”
While they have come under fire for security faults, the impression is that they believe in security and privacy. Regardless of whether you agree with that, I suspect they will keep plenty of customers in this country at least where we seem to struggle to grasp the idea of online privacy and the dangers of data sharing.
I for one am going to take the advice of the Germans on this.