WHEN? From 1st May 2021 I am no longer on Whatsapp.  Instead, I'll be on Signal (and Telegram, as some have switched to this platform).

WHY?

The new terms and conditions of use of Whatsapp were the final straw that broke my Facebook camel's back.  The new T's&C's probably don't have a material impact on me - certainly not right now - although with the UK's departure from the EU no doubt GDPR will be unpicked and replaced with something that enables the Facebook machine to harvest yet more data, even if it's only metadata.

I'm not a subscriber to conspiracy theories.  Facebook and its many tentacles had just secured too tight a stranglehold over me that I needed to cut myself loose:

  • Instagram.  Instead of just seeing pictures of my friend's activities, I was seeing adverts at a ratio of 2 friends to 1 ad.  Jeff became a distinct problem; his products were things that interested me but in which I had expressed no previous interest.  Temptation.  Instagram app deleted.
  • Facebook.  Verbally discussing the need for a leaf blower to tidy up the front lawn, suddenly Mark is presenting me leaf blowers - and not just any leaf blower, but the Makita compatible with a few of the LXT products that I use.  Facebook and Messenger apps deleted.
    • I do still use Facebook on a browser as we have a community page I need to access

SO WHAT?

Not really a big deal is it?  Or more precisely, who cares what I do?  Well, you've clicked this link and I haven't lost you so far...

The reason for writing this post is not to attempt to influence anyone else - far from it.  It is primarily an explanation for why I have left and won't be able to receive your messages any more.

Switching off Whatsapp is not an insignificant change for me personally.  I hadn't realised how useful it had become.  I have dozens of groups and use Whatsapp as a vital link - particularly in Lockdown (and until normal gatherings resume).

I have moved platform to Signal.  A small number of my contacts have also installed the app.  It's a non-profit - funded by donations - and the only viable alternative.  It offers everything Whatsapp does except a web interface.

So... here's the rub: I obviously can't tell you to install the Signal app just to keep in contact with me.  If you do: great!  If not... we still have SMS and email.

STILL READING?

When a friend first told me about Whatsapp - in 2009 - I was sceptical.  What did the platform have to benefit?  Particularly once end-to-end encryption was added in 2016.  So why did Facebook pay $21.8 billion in 2014?  Let me just repeat that - 21.8 BILLION DOLLARS.  That's more than the GDP of Estonia.  Ok, that means nothing to me either.  How about, that's more than the G20 pledged to fight Coronavirus?  It's more profit than Shell, BP and Chevron made last year.  However you look at it, it's colossal number.  I am no longer comfortable using the platform.

COMPARISON OF SIGNAL VS. WHATSAPP

In a nutshell, Signal does almost everything WhatsApp does, with one significant improvement:

Feature WhatsApp Signal Comments
Groups Yes Yes Signal offers a lot more control around group membership.
Reply and Forward Yes Yes WhatsApp has "Reply Privately" from a group, which Signal doesn't.
React to a message No Yes Signal allows you to 'like' with a thumbs up (or any emoji).  This often saves "ok" replies, particularly in groups.
Bold/Italic/Underline Yes No Feature request for all clients...
Desktop Client (Win/Mac) Yes Yes  
Web Client Yes No Signal discussion suggests the web client is a security issue.