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WhatsApp becomes dangerous

WhatsApp is the best Facebook product. In its pivot to a centralized encrypted chat although it also shows the dangers of an app with over 1.5 trillion global users.

The recent issue of spyware is a case in point and even more dangerous are the rising hoaxes that really discredit the app. In places such as India, it takes misinformation and fake news to the next level.

Facebook’s WhatsApp urged users to upgrade to the latest version of their popular messaging app after reporting that users may be vulnerable to phone-installing malicious spyware without their knowledge.

In a Financial Times report it described claims that an Israel-based company could successfully install malware on the WhatsApp Facebook which could have been used for telephone surveillance over the app.

There is a good reason why privacy-oriented chat applications have been developed. Spyware crafted by a sophisticated group of hackers-for-hire could (and probably did) take advantage of a flaw in the popular WhatsApp communications program to remotely hijack dozens of phones.

I used WhatsApp for my family comms, now that’s not something I’m comfortable with. If Facebook is unable to regulate hoaxes and spyware on its products, why would I buy into a centralized version that merges the functionality of Messenger, WhatsApp and Facebook chat? There’s not even a legal impact on apps doing the wrong thing. Compared to what these firms do, the fines are pitiful.

If it could be done by the NSO Group, I’m sure that Chinese state surveillance units could and were doing it. Now I prefer WeChat’s functionality to WhatsApp. But I admit that the prospect of using Signal and other privacy-focused apps is becoming more appealing. Facebook has proven that it is not a smart company in how it regulates itself. It is a serious concern for consumers who care about privacy.

WhatsApp’s problem of hoaxes, viral scams, fraud and misinformation is the Internet’s dirty secret we’re not talking about much. Facebook will launch a blockchain product in India to monetize WhatsApp, but look at all the harm it has already caused.

NSO Group revealed that the surveillance software would be installed even if people did not respond to the (voice) call. That’s not the kind of product I’d call safe. We live in an era of cybersecurity and if Binance and WhatsApp can be hacked, I don’t want any part in those services, utilities and platforms.


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