Saturday, May 25Inside Business Africa

Twitter suffers loss as million boycott WhatsApp

Millions of users of the messaging platform, WhatsApp across the globe, including Nigerians, have started exiting the platform following a new privacy policy recently announced, though to take effect from on February 8.

This privacy policy, which many users of the Facebook-owned WhatsApp consider offensive, has triggered a mass exodus of subscribers to other less popular but equally-functional platforms such as Telegram and Signal.

The new privacy policy allows WhatsApp and Facebook to share user information with businesses and third-party service providers that transact on the platforms.

In 2014, Facebook acquired the instant messaging platform for $19 billion – the largest acquisition by the social media giant to date.

According to The Global State of Digital in 2019 report, WhatsApp is the most used social media platform in Nigeria. At least, 85 per cent of Nigeria’s 24 million active social media users are on the platform.

Reacting to the new policy, Adekunle Badru, with the Twitter handle @Abadru decried the policy, saying: “I don’t think WhatsApp is serious about this new policy. I am moving to Telegram.”

Another user with the handle @NKdiamond, noted: “Apart from not covering us, they want to monitor how we shop, transact, love and eat. I don’t think that is friendly enough. There must be a rethink.”

Whatsapp, which surpassed two billion users in the first quarter of 2020, in its new ‘Terms of Service,’ which the users are expected to agree to says, “As part of the Facebook companies, WhatsApp receives information from and shares information with the Facebook companies as described in WhatsApp’s privacy policy including to provide integrations, which enable you to connect your WhatsApp experience with other Facebook company products; to ensure security, safety, and integrity across the Facebook company products; and to improve your adverts and products experience across the Facebook company products.”

Since its release about two days ago, the policy has been generating reactions from users in Nigeria and other parts of the world. But that is coming from those who took their time to read the terms as many users hurriedly click ‘Agree’ without reading the content of the agreement.

Though WhatsApp has been collecting data from its users since its inception, the new policy is about integrating the database with Facebook, which could on a future date be used for targeted advertising and political campaigns.

Also, it raises privacy concerns as it plans to monetise the user data.

Besides the device information and location data, the platform also collects information like messaging data, calling, status, groups (including group name, group picture, group description), payments or business feature, profile photo, whether you are online or not among others details.

It now wants users to share the phone number, IP address, mobile service provider and browsing information with Facebook.

The new terms and conditions also say that if a user uses a data backup service integrated with WhatsApp (like iCloud and Google Drive), he/she will receive information such as your WhatsApp messages, the content of in-app players, your payment and transaction information, shipping details and transaction amount (if using WhatsApp Pay).

Meanwhile, Twitter’s German-listed shares slumped as much as 8 per cent on Monday, the first trading day after it permanently suspended President Donald Trump’s account late on Friday.

The company said the suspension of Trump’s account, which had more than 88 million followers, was due to the risk of further violence, following the storming of the Capitol on Wednesday.

It was the first time Twitter banned a head of state. The ban sparked a worldwide controversy over the influence of tech giants on free speech and democracy.

For Twitter’s balance sheet itself, the decision to ban the U.S. president is expected to have a moderate negative impact.

“Expect slight user decline, though engagement erosion is a bigger question”, Berstein analysts wrote.

Source: Guardian

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