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Why I am not using Whatsapp (and I am still alive)

I used WhatsApp in 2013 for over a year. A lot. I got lots of notifications every day about different persons writing stuff in group chats. After the free year (I have an Android device), WhatsApp started harassing me about buying it to continue to use it. Strangely, the app continued to work again after a few days, and so it went on and on. Until I recognized I had to delete it. Why, you ask?

1. No encryption

I realized my privacy matters more to me than everything else when using software. It was pre-Snowden time when I quit, but I knew WhatsApp did not care about my data, so why would I care using it? WhatsApp was acquired by Facebook, which has even worse personal data policies. Also, they paid $19 billions for it. Seems like I dodged a bullet there…

*edit*
It has been brought to my attention that I forgot to mention the encryption mode of the new WhatsApp version.

Whatsapp allegedly added encryption in it’s Android version this year. So whenever two Android users do communicate, it seems to use TextSecure’s (now called Signal) end-to-end encryption. Since most of the times you can not be sure if your counterpart is using Android or iOS and nothing on the UI indicates if a secure connection was established, it is a nearly useless feature. And since WhatsApp is not Open-Source, no one can check if the implementation of the encryption is working as expected and is bug free.

2. Security concerns

Yes, I am a little security-minded. Or obsessed. But I remember WhatsApp having a few vulnerabilities which allowed to change the status information of anyone. The vulnerability was not fixed immediately, but WhatsApp simply tried to block the IP of the website using the vulnerability. Very bad incident management.

3. Always available

Being always reachable has its drawbacks. You are expected to answer every message as soon as you read it. And remember the controversy of the little check marks which showed people if you read their message? People were stalked and put under pressure to answer by two check marks.

I know by now that I do not need this kind of commitment to my smart-phone.

4. It is taken for granted

This might need a longer explanation. Whenever I meet new people nowadays, one of the first things you get asked is “Can I have your phone number? So I can message you on WhatsApp.
My answer usually is: “Yes, you can have my number, but I have no WhatsApp. You will have to send an SMS.
..so you have no WhatsApp?? That’s too bad…
This is the point where I either get weird looks or never hear back from them.

Did I miss something? Seems like people are disgusted with spending a few cents for an SMS or a call. Has human interaction become so worthless..?

This is the same for Facebook, by the way.

5. People are overwhelmed by technology

I once had a girl explaining to me that her cell phone was only able to receive calls over WhatsApp (and yes, she had a SIM card, that’s what you need to get a WhatsApp confirmation SMS). What great times we live in…

How I am still alive?

I seriously do not know. But seems like the chain letters did not work for me.
I do not get distracted excessively like before, which feels good. Sure, the majority of my friends still sorts out stuff on WhatsApp, so I get left out a lot.
But its okay. The people who really matter in my life, my family, my closest friends…they all know how to contact me.

Even better, my best friends even started to use Threema so they can send me their cat pictures!
I miss a lot, but I do not miss important things. That is enough for me. And maybe also for you.

I would like to hear your comments on this topic. Please leave a comment below or discuss on Hacker News.

Published inPersonal

2 Comments

  1. Jala

    Very annoying app,after years of struggling with it ,finally ,i have been deleted two weeks ago and i am still alive too

  2. Sameer

    Right, the double check mark is a pressure point. The maximun duration I have used whatsapp is for a week. Within that time my phone was flooded with lame jokes, comments and brain dumps of nitwits who had ample time to spare.

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