Elon Musk suggests ‘Signal’ as alternative to WhatsApp

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WhatsApp is changing its terms of service to force users to share personal data including phone numbers and locations with its parent company, Facebook.

Some critics, including Tesla CEO Elon Musk, have suggested users move to the encrypted messaging apps Signal and Telegram.

A WhatsApp representative told Ars Technica the change was to allow businesses to store WhatsApp chats using Facebook infrastructure.

The messaging app sells itself as a privacy-focused service.

Tesla CEO Elon Musk was among those who recommended users switch services, tweeting, “Use Signal.”

Tesla CEO Elon Musk’s “Use Signal” tweet led to a massive number of signups for the alternative app to WhatsApp

Nine hours earlier, Musk seemed to criticized Facebook, via a sardonic meme, as bearing responsibility for the rioters who attacked the US Capitol on Wednesday.

Facebook bought WhatsApp in 2014, and in 2016 it gave users a one-time chance to opt out of sharing app data with Facebook.

A WhatsApp spokeswoman told Ars Technica the change was to allow businesses to store WhatsApp chats using Facebook’s broader infrastructure.

A WhatsApp spokesman did not clarify why the platform decided to make the change but said it would not affect EU- and UK-based users.

“There are no changes to WhatsApp’s data sharing practices in the European region (including UK) arising from the updated Terms of Service and Privacy Policy. For the avoidance of any doubt, it is still the case that WhatsApp does not share European region WhatsApp user data with Facebook for the purpose of Facebook using this data to improve its products or advertisements,” the spokesman said.

The WhatsApp founders Brian Acton and Jan Koum left the company in 2017 and 2018. Acton has spoken about his departure, which followed the decision to introduce ads to WhatsApp, and has called for people to “delete Facebook.”

Koum’s departure was also surrounded by reports that he had clashed with management over the company’s approach to user privacy on WhatsApp.


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