The year started with a WhatsApp bang where the company decided that it was time to start sharing user data back with Facebook.
Awareness around user privacy and security has been ongoing for a while now but it seems that most people do not just care.
With the rate at which WhatsApp’s user base plunged by millions, though, it seems that the silent awareness had been having its desired effects.
The consciousness is up – and we have to keep it that way to regain user privacy that the big tech seems to be taking these days.
Where Are the Users Going?
If you have tasted the benefits that come with IM apps before now, there is a high chance that you never want to leave them. Thus, we naturally knew that those users leaving WhatsApp would have to be going somewhere else.
At the same time that WhatsApp was shedding users, other messaging platforms were getting those users. The good news about these alternatives is that they are not just options to WhatsApp – but have a unique privacy selling point also.
Apple device users already have this since they bought their device. However, they are the only ones with access to this secure, end to end encrypted chat platform.
Allowing seamless integration between SMS texts and IM messages, Apple also has a reputation for protecting and upholding user privacy.
Telegram has long been known as a worthy contender for WhatsApp. It is, thus, not very surprising that they were one of the biggest gainers from the WhatsApp fiasco.
Well before WhatsApp thought about disappearing messages, Telegram has had this running. The platform even allows you to delete messages from your device and the other party’s unit without a trace. That, and you can have a private chat dashboard different from the usual one.
How about an IM app that aims to know as little about you as possible? That is what Threema offers.
Not requiring emails or phone numbers for sign up, users get to text anonymously. The open-source project doesn’t log user data either, neither does it record something as basic as IP addresses.
We don’t need to say too much about this one.
Elon Musk supports that his users get in on this app. But that could be from a business perspective, so we love that Edward Snowden also weighs in with support for the app. Now, that is a recommendation we can trust.
Other Ways to Keep Your Privacy Intact
Will changing your IM apps be enough to keep yourself safe and secure against the internet ills? Surely not.
You still have to combine other best practices such as:
- Choosing your browsers right – go for options like Safari, Tor browser, Mozilla Firefox, and Brave browser. They are engineered against browser fingerprinting, intelligent cookie tracking, adware, and more.
- Install a VPN – what a VPN hide is more than your real IP address. A good VPN also conceals your internet traffic to prevent tracking.
- Choose secure passwords – that way, you can rest assured that you’re safer against common hacking attempts.
- Enable 2FA – should your secure passwords fail; you’ll have an extra layer of security to fall back on.
- Don’t sideload apps – use your device’s recommended app and program stores.
The Time is Now
Don’t wait till you feel a breach coming – or get into one – before you start taking your privacy seriously. If there is a good time to start implementing these tips, it is now. You’ll be grateful for it when breaches are happening around you and you are somehow immune.