Why is WhatsApp not reliable anymore?

WhatsApp is the most famous messaging app with over a billion users. This Facebook-owned platform is usually one of the first apps one installs in their new phone. However, due to rising complications like malware threats, spam and mainly security issues, even the most loyal users of WhatsApp are looking for better alternatives.

Here are some reasons why WhatsApp is becoming less reliable every day:

  1. Unencrypted Backup Messages:
    The end-to-end encryption of WhatsApp makes it better and more secure than other messaging applications. However, cybercriminals are always looking for ways to hack the app. Any hacker, scammer or attacker can drop a spyware on your phone and have access to all your messages. Or, when the messages are decrypted, your account can be hacked even without the use of a spyware. Due to this, many critics have labelled WhatsApp’s encryption as “useless” while others argue that the encryption does offer higher security and protection despite its vulnerability.

On the other hand, messages in WhatsApp are backed up in your Google Drive or iCloud account. These messages do not have the protection of end-to-end encryption. Though this feature allows you to access old, deleted messages, it results in a huge security threat.

Anyone can hack into your drive or cloud account and access all your backed up data. An even bigger setback is that this feature is automatic – users do not have the option to not backup their data.

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  • WhatsApp Web: Prone to Spyware
    A major problem of WhatsApp is its vulnerability against spyware. There is a Web WhatsApp feature which allows you to use WhatsApp on your computer by scanning a code. While this proves to be of great convenience to users, it also makes the application a common target for cybercriminals.

    Since this requires you to open a website to scan the code, you can end up using a non-official site. With applications installed on the Google Play Store or the Apple Store, it is easy to detect which one is the official one. But the same does not happen on the general Internet. Hackers or scammers can create phishing websites under the name of WhatsApp Web, tricking you into sharing your personal data. Others can even drop harmful malware to your WhatsApp Web application, compromising the safety of your computer data.

  • Data Sharing with Facebook:
    WhatsApp is a Facebook-owned application. A new policy in 2014 stated that WhatsApp could share your personal data with Facebook. Additionally, this personal information would be showed publicly on Facebook. Soon enough, the applications received a lot of backlash as users can not opt out of the policy. Anyone can view your personal data, making you vulnerable to threats and compromising your safety.

  • Privacy Policy:
    The main reason for WhatsApp’s slow but steady decline is its privacy policies. Whether it is friends and family, or co-workers and bosses, anyone in your contacts can view your profile picture, your status and when you were last active. Even your WhatsApp stories can be viewed by these people since the application does not allow you to put them on private. However, a new feature does allow you to choose which contacts to hide your story from. But if you have a large contact list, it becomes very difficult to pick and choose contacts share your story with.

    In addition to these disadvantages, there is no content censorship which heightens the problem. Any person can send you any type of inappropriate messages. Whether it is false information or dangerous content, it reaches your inbox without your consent and you are forced to read these harmful messages.

  • Fake news:
    On large social media platforms, it is very easy to spread false information. WhatsApp is most famous for this issue and is greatly condemned for it. There have been major incidents, especially in Brazil and India, where the spread of false information led to serious complications. It was used against competitions for one’s personal benefits and even resulted in the lynching of people accused with fake crimes.

    Especially early on during the COVID-19 pandemic, misinformation about the virus was spread on a large scale. This was a time when people relied mainly on social media for news and information due to the lockdown, so it had even bigger consequences.

The question that remains is whether WhatsApp is still a reliable app. It undoubtedly has powerful features like the end-to-end encryption, but major fallbacks related to safety and security make this an unsafe app.

Thankfully, there are alternative messaging applications with a stronger privacy policy to keep your data protected. WhatsApp may be losing its large following and users count, but other platforms are quickly rising to the top and may even end up replacing WhatsApp as the most famous messaging application.

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