Facebook, Instagram And User Privacy: Is WhatsApp Doing Better?
By Seun Olaniyan
App business is still a chain of complexities mainly due to constant misrepresentations, false personalities, swindling, cyber-crimes, bullying and privacy infringement by known and unknown third-parties. Facebook is grappling with most of this at the moment. The same misnomer applies to Instagram, the photo-heavy / pictures-focused social platform acquired by Facebook. Although the complexity and misnomer are being gradually addressed, Facebook Incorporation especially, cannot guarantee 100% privacy protection for its users on the social network.
Facebook has 2.38 billion followers as at the first quarter of 2019, while its sister company, Instagram enjoys the mass followership of about 1 billion worldwide. For platforms with such an enormous audience, phishing activities and parody from scammers and spammers are always not unexpected. The question is how best can Facebook clamp down on these activities to maintain sanity for other genuine users?
The founder of facebook, Mark Zuckerberg’s, goal is to create a common social networking ground through which people across the world could relate boundlessly. Apparently, he didn’t foresee that his dream would come off as quickly as it did. Today, the social app built and acquired, later, by the Harvard drop-out, has made a significant impact in the lives of billions of people globally. In fact, it is the new reality.
Meanwhile, shortly after acquiring Instagram and Whatsapp, Zuck’s empire was hit by a crisis. This was back in 2018 when the Cambridge Analytica fiasco erupted.
Thanks and no thanks to the whistle-blower, Christopher Wylie. Facebook was plunged into deep waters over allegations of the illicit harvesting of personal data of over 50 million of its users by Cambridge Analytica in the run up to 2017 US Presidential election.
Indeed, the revelation wreaked tremendous havoc on Facebook Inc. Market cap plummet about 20%, leading to a loss of over $119bn. A group of users also shunned the social media app. The Independent, published in the UK reported that “Over one million daily and monthly European users have stopped logging into Facebook”.
Some other negative impacts of the saga include: defamation, bad publicity, distrust, the #DeleteFacebook campaign, and summon by the US Congress. The hurt to the brand and corporate damage can only be imagined.
Despite Mark Zuckerberg’s effort to reduce the damage, being on the hot seat of Congress and being viewed live across the world testifying to events around Facebook, deepened the effect of the saga. The business is still mopping the mess. Facebook continues to tighten security around these platforms. Now, what about WhatsApp?
The Holy Grail?
Facebook Inc. claims it has put in place a lot of security measures to protect consumers’ data starting with the acquisition of WhatsApp, a messaging app that features an end-to-end encryption.
WhatsApp’s end-to-end encryption ensures privacy and protection for users. The app also censors access to users information, even by the owner company, WhatsApp itself.
However, WhatsApp is not bereft of loopholes. Like its new owner, it faces the same dilemma. The spread of fake news via Whatsapp threatens social cohesion and corporate goodwill. There are many instances where false information sometimes regarding a particular product and fake news are being pushed (shared) across groups on the messaging app. This is damaging. It also tells what a destructive weapon the app can be in the hands of mischief-makers if not quickly regulated. For instance, the recent hoax that affected a food manufacturer has led the messaging platform to engaging a team of scientists who help nip the problem of fake news.
Aside misinformation and aggravation of social tension, inauthentic users can break into the platform and cause severe damage.
One thing is sure, though, Whatsapp is arguably the most discreet of the trio. Facebook remains a better platform for connecting with old-time family and friends, while Instagram might also be a better platform to showcase brands, products, and services.
Notably, WhatsApp is ahead in the quest for users’ security by requesting the users to register their SIM, and upload contacts. The uploading of users contacts unto the app server may seem to pose a threat to privacy, yet the twin-processes limit the intrusion of robots, and discourage criminals.
To make matters more interesting, WhatsApp has other applications that are suitable for different purposes. Take WhatsApp Business for example. The app features tools that help automate, sort and respond to messages in due time.
With a total of over 1.5 billion users, the joint population of Africa and America, Whatsapp is more accessible and affordable for the common man.
It is a fact that publicity on Facebook and Instagram are more efficient but customer trust and loyalty is also evident on WhatsApp, as a result of the user-data privacy features that filter impostors.
Having x-rayed the loopholes around social network apps, it is clear that the apps are indispensable at this point for businesses and the common citizens. However, one thing is sure, there are no ‘holy grail’ when it comes to social media networks. Complete security and privacy on any social network app may continue to be elusive at least for a while.