Is WhatsApp reading my messages?
No they are not. The messages are still end-to-end encrypted. End-to-end encryption means that during two way conversations or even in group chats, when you send a message it is encrypted. This encryption is done by a WhatsApp logarithm that is proprietary. Encryption means that messages cannot be read by anyone else unless it is decrypted. Decryption requires a specific key. Which only selected people in WhatsApp have. Also decryption requires a lot of processing. And considering the Amount of Data travelling across the WhatsApp servers, it’s practically impossible for them to decrypt all of our messages.
So they are not reading my messages; that means I am safe and they are not spying?
Just because they don’t read the messages doesn’t mean they are not spying. WhatsApp has access to a lot of your personal information which they’ll be selling to advertisers. Just to name a few things they are spying on; They monitor, who we contact, when we contact and how often we contact. They also know the length of each message meaning, they can easily deduce what type of relationship you have with one person you are contacting. Just for example; If a person is having an extra-marital affair, WhatsApp knows it before anyone else, How?? He is contacting a specific number when his Wife’s phone isn’t around. The conversations are long. They happen at convenient times when no one is around. Since they are monitoring both your location (which you should immediately turn off the permission in app permissions in your phone settings) and your contact list, they’ll know right away. So just because WhatsApp isn’t reading your messages doesn’t mean that you are safe. To name some other substantial things that they monitor; Your WhatsApp status, Your profile picture, Your contact list.
And they are selling all of this information to companies.
This is horrible. So should I stop using WhatsApp?
Yes, you should abandon WhatsApp if you care the slightest about your privacy.
How do I properly leave WhatsApp?
First of all, it is important that you delete both your Facebook and Instagram accounts. If you don’t, then deleting WhatsApp would do no good. If you have deleted both those accounts, now you should delete your WhatsApp account and uninstall it from your phone. This won’t mean that you’re 100% secure now. Because Google spies on everything, including your location 24/7(Apple does the same with iPhones). But still it means a lot, because you are now being monitored by one company only i.e. Google or Apple. Now you have successfully left one tech giants’ jaws.
Okay I will leave WhatsApp. What are the alternatives?
Three messaging platforms stand out, if you are looking for alternatives. Discord, isn’t much famous for being an instant messenger, but it is quite famous because of the trust they’ve built for being totally secure. Their policy is that they won’t monitor anything unless, directed by the Government for a specific person (You can’t run from the governments, they’ll spy your SIM cards, so this fact isn’t that big of a threat). They don’t offer end-to-end encryption. Also, it’s among the most difficult to use apps, since it wasn’t designed to be an instant messenger.
Second app worth mentioning is Telegram. It is Open source but only up to an extent, a lot of its basic code is proprietary. They do offer end-to-end encryption. But you have to manually enable the encryption for each contact. But they offer a double layer encryption which they seem to be quite sure no one can break since they once offered $300,000 in the past to anyone who could break the encryption. The user interface is also quite user friendly, and the app is easy to use. The only problem is that they have access to your contact list.
Last but not least, Signal. Signal is an open source app. It also offers end-to-end encryption. And since it is open source we know there is no spying going on, as we can see the code and know every single bit that is going on. This makes it one of the best, if not the best choice. The only thing they have access to is your contact list. Which can be sold, but since they accept donations, there is very little chance that they’ll betray their loyal fanbase.
Okay, I’ve decided on an alternative. How do I make sure it doesn’t spy on me?
First of all, don’t install the app of your choice from the Play Store. The best website to download Android applications is apkmirror.com since, they’ve built a huge reputation for being malware free. Their security team is the same as works for the Google Play Store. So this website would make sure a Virus doesn’t enter your phone, and at the same time, you would securely have the app. Never give an app access to your location, deny whenever it asks for permission. Also, if you’ve decided on Telegram, just make sure you activate private messaging feature from your settings(the exact mechanism varies depending on the version you are using)