back to article Whats(goes)App must come down... World in shock as Zuck decides to intertwine Facebook, Instagram, WhatsApp

In an unprecedented decision that has left tech observers struggling to contain their shock, Facebook has decided to create a common software architecture for its three main apps: Facebook Messenger, Instagram, and WhatsApp. After all, never before in corporate history has one company spent billions acquiring other …

  1. Chris G Silver badge

    Telegram

    See Title ^

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Telegram

      Or Wire. Or any number of alternatives.

      Any half-wit that claims they have an interest in IT security should never have been using any product remotely associated with Farcebook in the first place.

      1. Waseem Alkurdi Silver badge

        Re: Telegram

        <insert the common response that Facebook is forced upon you by the lusers who are in charge>

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Telegram

      Telegram is not encrypted by default.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Telegram

        And WhatsApp only has transport encryption, which is essentially worthless, as it's Facebook you don't want listening in, and that's the bit that's not encrypted.

        I laugh at numpties that tell me Facebook can't listen in on their WhatsApp chats, as the internet told them it's encrypted. I ask them if their fingers and eyes are included in that encryption, as that is the only way you get true end to end.

        What they have is an app, where Facebook slurp what you type and what you receive, before it's encrypted and sent.

        1. matjaggard

          Re: Telegram

          WhatsApp's encryption is message level, not just transport level. Read the whitepaper on how it works. I'm not saying they perform zero analytics in the app but I do believe that individual messages are not readable by Facebook or anyone else. The current benefit for Facebook is the immense value of knowing who communicates with who and how frequently.

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: Telegram

            And Facebook slurp before the message is sent and after it's been displayed. It clearly says so in their privacy policy.

            If you think encryption is stopping Facebook snooping on your Whatsapp messages, you are living in a dream world, They own the app, they can do whatever they want before and after it's been sent/received.

          2. JohnFen Silver badge

            Re: Telegram

            "I do believe that individual messages are not readable by Facebook or anyone else"

            Why do you believe that? Better, why do you believe that won't change in the near future? Because of some old whitepaper?

    3. muhfugen

      Re: Telegram

      Because a program which you have to log in with your phone number is that much better to keeping you from being tracked.

      1. Ken Hagan Gold badge

        Re: Telegram

        Well, if you want to receive incoming traffic then someone needs to know where you are, for some value of "where".

        1. LDS Silver badge

          if you want to receive incoming traffic then someone needs to know where you are

          How did Skype worked without? There are many ways to make it work without phone numbers and address books slurping. But all theses apps are designed around getting a unique ID like phone number and then creating relationships slurping the phone books. This is also one of the most powerful ways to match data with real people identities.

          1. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

            Re: if you want to receive incoming traffic then someone needs to know where you are

            >How did Skype worked without?

            By continually exchanging messages with peers (in it's original incarnation) - tricky if you are on mobile with a less than generous data allowance

            1. LDS Silver badge

              "By continually exchanging messages with peers"

              It's not that much traffic telling a supernode which is your IP... the continuous OS and app slurping consumes much more bandwidth.

              You can also do it without supernodes using some distributed servers - no P2P architecture, but I guess any messaging app today use a central directory.

              Really, no need to use something like the phone number which is actually never used on an IP network.

        2. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Telegram

          > Well, if you want to receive incoming traffic then someone needs to know where you are

          You mean "who" not "where".

          Like say, email addresses or xmpp JIDs?

          Also see Briar for a system that simply uses your keypair as your ID.

      2. LDS Silver badge

        Re: Telegram

        And which raids your phonebook too also. I would use only a messaging app that doesn't require my phone number and let me add contacts myself. No need they look for my 'friends' when many of the numbers I have are not friends at all (business and service numbers, some of which could be quite 'reserved'), nor I may want all 'friends' to be able to message me.

    4. bazza Silver badge

      Re: BlackBerry Messenger

      BBM is still there, available on every platform (iOS and Android), works a treat. Even works on BB10 if one is belligerent enough not to have moved on.

      1. JohnFen Silver badge

        Re: BlackBerry Messenger

        BBM? You mean the service that Blackberry is proud to allow law enforcement access to and that had no problem allowing nations to backdoor as a condition of entering their markets?

    5. arthoss

      Re: Telegram

      Signal is the way to go for communication, if iMessage is not an option.

  2. and I

    Signal

    Just deleted my WhatsApp account, switched to Signal and all my friends agreed the same move. Signal is encrypted. That's the very last of Zuckerbergs evil empire that had a toe hold on me, now to find solid replacements for the Google gorp.

    1. Persona

      Re: Signal

      Some people have lots of friends, and their friends have friends.

      1. DougS Silver badge

        Re: Signal

        Yep, network effects mean this isn't a feasible alternative for most.

        1. chuBb.

          Re: Signal

          It is feasible any one who won't communicate with me by other means gets disconnected, people who know me know my email and phone number it's been the same since '97 those that bother are friends everyone else is digital chod I don't miss

        2. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

          Re: Signal

          "network effects"

          Presumably these friends communicated with each other before Facebook even existed. If networks effects are so powerful how did Facebook replace those? If a sufficient subset replace FB with something they feel comfortable with and agree on then if the rest want to remain in touch they will have to add that something to their own repertoire in exactly the same way as they joined FB in the first place.

        3. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Signal

          When child at appropriate and legal age wanted to install whatsapp to chat with friends at who all had existing whatsapp accounts, I said no (for FB slurp reasons -- I know there's message level encryption, in fact it's quite good and uses the same system that Signal uses/devised, but there's a complete Contacts slurp to FB etc). Arbitrarily chose Wire over Wire and Signal (kinda wish I'd done the other now, but there's not much in it), and he managed to persuade (over a matter of weeks) his friends to install too. They still have whatsapp for other contacts but use wire for their circle. It IS feasible to get people to switch! With the current negative press about FB I would have thought now is exactly the right time to try. Suggest Signal or Wire -- Telegram is already on the Russians' radar. GNU Ring (or Jami or whatever it's called now) is too difficult to set up for the average familial Joseph/Josephine so you won't persuade your friends with that (unless they're all techy paranoid friends). AC because I've said too much already!

      2. VikiAi Silver badge
        Trollface

        Re: Some people have lots of friends, and their friends have friends.

        Are we talking actual-people-we-have-met (including met electronically) friends, or social-media-follower friends here?

        1. Joe W

          Re: Some people have lots of friends, and their friends have friends.

          For me: actual people. I know the concept seems strange to some...

        2. Def Silver badge

          Re: Some people have lots of friends, and their friends have friends.

          I have just over 550 friends on Facebook. I would guess maybe a dozen of those are people I've never met in real life. (And maybe a couple of dozen more I expect never to meet or bump into again at some point.)

      3. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Signal

        Just live without it. Chat app is not an essential part of life, I don't do Facebook or anything associated with Facebook.

        I do have a Google account, their privacy policy is more acceptable, and their services are more valuable, so I (and everyone I know) just uses Google hangouts,

        1. Terry 6 Silver badge

          Re: Signal

          Sometimes when using SMS people want to send a picture, or a sound even. or include more than one person.Or have a regular group to communicate with.

          And for most people the "included minutes" they get with their mobile phone contract excludes that and instead charges them. I've been caught that way myself and got charged. So they use Wattsapp.

          And I switch to Watsapp as required.

          And out in the real world people have Watsapp on their phones and so they use it. They just do. They never remove unwanted preinstalled apps, or delete old messages or use secure passwords. Why would they avoid Watsapp? Not why should , but why would they.

        2. CrazyOldCatMan Silver badge

          Re: Signal

          just uses Google hangouts

          What? All three of you?

    2. bazza Silver badge

      Re: Signal

      History has a habit of repeating. There are VCs behind Signal, probably. Some has to pay somewhere for the servers...

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Signal

        Indeed, fie years ago the guy might have said "I've had it with Facebook, I'm switching to Whatsapp".

      2. Charlie Clark Silver badge
        Stop

        Re: Signal

        There are VCs behind Signal, probably.

        There aren't, there's a foundation that pays for hosting (pretty cheap) and development (less so). It also doesn't matter that much as the protocal and code have been open from the start.

        There are other reasons why Signal is unlikely to rule the roost — multi-device support and group management are poor, partly due to the way the protocol works — but the sale of user data isn't among them.

    3. Harmless Drudge

      Re: Signal

      I deleted WhatsApp the day Facebook's purchase of it was announced. I knew perfectly well that the claim they wouldn't use the data was a lie. And so it proved.

      1. phuzz Silver badge

        Re: Signal

        "the claim they wouldn't use the data was a lie. And so it proved."

        Proved? Citation needed methinks.

        (I'm sure they're planning to, and this is probably a move towards that, but this article is about their plans, not something they have already done.)

        1. Charlie Clark Silver badge

          Re: Signal

          "the claim they wouldn't use the data was a lie. And so it proved."

          The European Commission investigated the takeover and agreed to it on condition that Facebook would not merge user data from WhatsApp with Facebook. Facebook subsequently reneged on the agreement and was given a relatively small fine.

    4. mexicanacheese

      Re: Signal

      I can recommend Proton Mail for an encrypted, ad-free alternative to the 'Google gorp'.

  3. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    I hope he rolls messenger back into the main facebook app. I refuse to install a separate app for chatting, and am seriously tired of the stupid main app telling me I have unread messages that I don't have.

    1. DougS Silver badge

      I just leave them there and after a few days I'll login on my computer (using a private browser window to avoid polluting myself with a bunch of Facebook cookies) so I can read the message. Which is usually not worth the bother, or out of date by the time I get to it.

      I wish there was a way to block messages entirely from my Facebook account.

      1. Mage Silver badge
        Coffee/keyboard

        a way to block messages entirely from my Facebook

        Delete Facebook.

        I do hope you never gave them a real name. Also I hope you gave them a disposable number & email

        1. DougS Silver badge

          Re: a way to block messages entirely from my Facebook

          They don't have my phone number, or my "real" email. They have my real name, but wrong birthday and I don't have a name so unique I could be reliably tied to it unless they had my exact birthday and year.

          1. Richard Parkin

            Re: a way to block messages entirely from my Facebook

            Unless someone knows you and has your details in their contacts when FB will slurp it all. You don’t have to be a member of FB etc for them to have your details.

    2. Tom Chiverton 1

      Metal works well on Android as a main FB client, and allows FB Messages too.

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: rolling messenger into the rest of FB

      I hope they don't. I'm yet to understand the point of most of FB to my life, but messenger is a useful way of communicating with my kids.

    4. rg287 Bronze badge

      I hope he rolls messenger back into the main facebook app. I refuse to install a separate app for chatting, and am seriously tired of the stupid main app telling me I have unread messages that I don't have.

      You have the main app installed? Wrong way round.

      I have the Messenger app installed but use the mobile site in a browser.

      When comparing my FB Archive (the "all-your-data-we-have" download thingy) with others who had the app installed, the amount and diversity of slurped data they had (SMS messages, call histories, etc) was startling. The Messenger app doesn't seem to slurp half as much as the main app (at least not with the permissions I've given it). I am however trying to wean people onto Signal and away from WhatsApp and FB Messenger.

  4. LDS Silver badge

    'much harder for lawmakers and antitrust investigators to argue'

    Or it just made it easier, since it will increase the monopoly, especially if user data, and not only messages, are consolidated?

    1. IceC0ld Bronze badge
      Facepalm

      Re: 'much harder for lawmakers and antitrust investigators to argue'

      I can see the day when the Govt 'forces' FB to divest these items into singular applications, as they have too much control over peoples everyday life ........................................................

    2. hoola

      Re: 'much harder for lawmakers and antitrust investigators to argue'

      "Or it just made it easier, since it will increase the monopoly, especially if user data, and not only messages, are consolidated?"

      I would have thought that is what it is all about, how much more money can we make aggregate all those billions of users and there data?

      Of course they are probably doing it already but it is a lot of work.

      Facebook should be forced to split of Instagram and WhatsApp. The problem is that they are such a shower of two-faced shites, they will keep everything whilst swearing blind they have complied.

  5. Terry 6 Silver badge

    Damn

    Wattsapp wasn't great and the privacy issue is still there, but it is far better than SMS - since I don't get charged for including a photo.

    Signal you say. Erm. Wattsapp is on almost everyone's device. There's far too much inertia here.

    Signal is on almost no one's and just because I wouldn't want to use the rolled-up Wattsapp it doesn't mean that I'll find any friends and family ( especially family) who will switch. Because they won't know anyone else who'd switch, because... recursively.

    Everyone has Wattsapp, which means everyone needs to use Wattsapp to send rich messages to anyone else.

    1. Waseem Alkurdi Silver badge

      Re: Damn

      WhatsApp*.

      Try Telegram ... I've seen lusers starting to use that more.

      1. Dog Eatdog

        Re: Damn

        Kik

    2. werdsmith Silver badge

      Re: Damn

      I don’t know anyone who uses WhatsApp, and it has the Facebook association stigma which kind of condemns it to chavdom.

      But, in 2019 it shouldn’t be necessary to load one app to message one person, then another app to message someone else and a third app etc. That’s just ridiculous, and this is the reason that despite all the features and extra functionality, these apps are inferior to the old fashioned generic protocols, poo3, smtp and even SMS.

      Same applies to social media, I should be able to choose one but still share content across people who have chosen another.

      Some of the ideals of the internet and web are already badly eroded by the.likes of Fuckerberg.

      If the web and web comms becomes owned by one or two corporate entities then the web is properly fucked.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Damn

        "I don’t know anyone who uses WhatsApp" .....

        ..... are you a hermit? 84% of 24 – 35 year old Britons use WhatsApp dropping to 78% for 35 – 44 year olds. Globally it has 1 billion daily users and 1.5 billion monthly users. You must know someone who uses it.

        1. localgeek

          Re: Damn

          I live in the US, and have to admit I don't know anyone who uses WhatsApp, either. If they do, they don't talk to me about it. I think the first time I'd ever heard of it was when they got bought by Facebook.

          1. Persona

            Re: Damn

            Quite possible as the US has a low penetration of WhatsApp. For the 18-29 age group its 30% and for the 30-59 folks it's 25% both of which are dwarfed by Facebook messenger.

            It's the network effect. You use what your friends use, and they use what their friends use. For the US this means a big dominance of Facebook messenger and for the UK it's WhatsApp. It is however possible that you are in an isolated social bubble so don't come across people using the regionally dominant messenger even though they probably do ...... just not with you.

            https://xkcd.com/1810/

        2. Phil Endecott Silver badge

          Re: Damn

          > 78% for 35 – 44 year olds [use whatsapp]

          Clearly bollox. Maybe 7.8%.

        3. lowwall

          Re: Damn

          I'm in the USA and it's been my experience that those who have friends or families overseas use WhatsApp and those who don't are unaware of it.

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: Damn

            ... and those who don't are unaware of it."

            Are you referring to Whatsapp or overseas?

            ;)

        4. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

          Re: Damn

          "84% of 24 – 35 year old Britons use WhatsApp dropping to 78% for 35 – 44 year olds."

          Sez who?

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: Damn

            "Sez who?"

            Probably Vic Reeves....

        5. tiggity Silver badge

          Re: Damn

          I'm not convinced by those figures for UK users. I'm sure there are lots of supposed UK based accounts on there, but plenty of them will be secondary accounts* or some of the huge number of bot accounts.

          *Lots of people who use social media have multiple accounts (an innocuous one that potential employers, relatives etc. can find easily as will use their name or an obvious variant, then one (or more) accounts for "real" interaction with their friends and that is less sanitized (and not obviously using their name) - still plenty of oversharing, but identity obfuscation to avoid impact on job prospects etc. Others reasons for multiple accounts, are when social media presence required as representing their employer which places limits on what they can say, so they will have a separate less restricted more personal social media presence.

        6. JohnFen Silver badge

          Re: Damn

          I don't know anyone who uses it, either, and I'm not a hermit. But I also don't live in Britain.

      2. abedarts

        Re: Damn

        Impossible to not know someone who uses Whatsapp? Not if you are in China, but I don't think you are.

        1. werdsmith Silver badge

          Re: Damn

          I don't lie about stuff like that.

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: Damn

            OK so you are not lying but you probably are mistaken and do know lots of people who use WhatsApp. It's just that they don't message you with it as you don't have WhatsApp. Were you to install WhatsApp on your phone I suspect it would identify many other users from their phone numbers in your list of contacts.

            I can't however imagine you would do that, though the results would be interesting to you.

            1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

              Re: Damn

              "I can't however imagine you would do that"

              I can't imagine why he would either. Why should he as, like myself, he manages perfectly well without. Perceptions of the indispensability of such things are entirely an artefact of their use. There are alternatives. The alternatives need cash payment but the, of course so do FB and the rest in addition to the cost in slurpage - you pay for the communications platform itself don't you?

      3. Simon Harris Silver badge

        Re: Damn

        poo3 - the messaging protocol that dogs use to communicate.

        1. Scrote J. Dingleberry

          Re: Damn

          Although Poo3 has "end to end encryption" My dog says he switched to Peemail, it parses buttsniff much better.

      4. Jason Bloomberg Silver badge
        Coat

        Re: Damn

        I don’t know anyone who uses WhatsApp

        Nor me, but I'm an 'old git' who shuns social media and it's just something else I let pass me by. Is it popular? No idea.

        But I do keep hearing how our Members of Parliament use it to run their affairs, conduct their scheming and plotting, so I'm going to be delighted if they find to their costs that it has back doors and leaks like a sieve on command.

        Mine's the one with a book of stamps in the pocket and a bottle of invisible ink.

        1. Dan 55 Silver badge

          Re: Damn

          I'd have hoped our members of parliament would have used Signal, Wickr, Wire, or something to conduct their scheming and plotting instead of entrusting their schemes and plots to the whims of Facebook, but such is British politics for you.

          Anyway, they've probably all got chat history backup to Google Drive set up which makes E2E encryption pointless.

          Looking forward to the update that uploads everything in the chat history to Facebook as well.

          1. clipper

            Re: Damn

            Yes the whatsapp backups are UNencrypted - and auto backup has been the default for awhile.

      5. Jamie Jones Silver badge
        Happy

        Re: Damn

        You're right, but unfortunately there is no money to be made promoting a chat program using standards that is interoperable with clients by other companies.

        Mind you, I'm glad not to be regularly using the poo3 protocol you mentioned. It was a load of shit, and always failed the smell test!

        :-)

      6. Charlie Clark Silver badge

        Re: Damn

        But, in 2019 it shouldn’t be necessary to load one app to message one person, then another app to message someone else and a third app etc.

        Agree but this is largely because the mobile networks couldn't agree on updates to the protocols. Google is pushing an updated and "universal" rich messaging protocol, which I think should be welcomed. Obviously not for reasons of privacy, though the protocol is designed to be essentially as private as SMS, which is reasonable, but for the attempt to create a protocol that just works. Google's angle is that if there is no messaging monopoly, then there will be less advertising money diverted toward any one network, which is what Facebook is aiming for.

        1. LDS Silver badge

          Google's angle is that *until there is a Google* messaging monopoly

          And after the several Google failures to achieve one, it's better to have a "universal" one Google can tap into...

          1. Charlie Clark Silver badge

            Re: Google's angle is that *until there is a Google* messaging monopoly

            And after the several Google failures to achieve one, it's better to have a "universal" one Google can tap into...

            Agreed, but, overall, I think it's a good idea if carriers pick it up and don't go stupid over pricing.

    3. Alumoi

      Re: Damn

      Everyone has Wattsapp, which means everyone needs to use Wattsapp to send rich messages to anyone else.

      You don't say! I guess I'm not everyone as the first thing I do with every new phone is to root it and delete the crap.

    4. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Damn

      You guys need to put that fallacy to rest.

      It doesn't matter a iota what "everyone" are using.

      What matters is what you and your contacts are using or agree to use. That is a much more manageable and flexible problem to solve.

      You were not using whatsapp six years ago. You won't be using it six years from now. Do not be afraid to use your power of decision.

      Please note, I am NOT advocating Signal under any circumstances!

    5. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

      Re: Damn

      "Everyone has Wattsapp"

      I don't so not everyone has it. What's more "everyone" could replace it with something else if they chose, then no one would have it. Free will is a wonderful thing.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Damn

        "Free will is a wonderful thing."

        FTR it's just an illusion.

        1. JohnFen Silver badge

          Re: Damn

          You have the freedom to believe that.

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: Damn

            Most people just go with the crowd. It's lazy and doesn't require much thought. It's what defines people as "normal". Not much free will involved there - they just can't help themselves.

            They don't want to stand out and be seen as "abnormal" since that group is often treated like lepers.

            1. Terry 6 Silver badge

              Re: Damn

              True, but also mass communication requires a common tool.

              .

              When I got my first email address,decades ago, I seldom got to use it. Because no one else I knew had one, then.

              Pre-installing a messaging app means that you know other people have got it too. So you can just use it. Getting All and Sundry (especially Sundry) to install a different one, just so that you can contact them might seem a bit fussy for most people.

    6. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Damn

      Everyone does not have Whatsapp. More don't than do.... Many are wrongly fooled into thinking that it is the de facto std for messaging.

      1. Terry 6 Silver badge

        Re: Damn

        As opposed to facebook messenger or compared to other IM software, like the aforementioned Signal. Figures (in the context of instant messaging software, not all devices on entire planet including those who never IM) please. And source. And excluding countries that use their own govt approved service btw..

        Or was that just a random vague claim, unsupported or out of context?

    7. Sometimes an Engineer

      Re: Damn

      It's a shame you're getting downvoted so much, as there is a lot of truth in what was written.

      At least in the UK, and amongst my EU colleagues and friends, Whatsapp is ubiquitous that any replacement needs to overcome a significant network effect. It does not matter if there are 10 competing apps, in fact that makes it worse; we are not going to all install 10 different apps, and then try and figure out which friend group communicates on which app.

      I personally have several disparate friend groups (from university, from previous jobs, from social activities), and trying to move them all onto another messaging service is not going to be easy. Trust them or not, the UK survey statistics show ~80% of 18-44 year olds in the UK use WhatsApp (with the percentage dropping for the older age groups). Source: statista.com

  6. Franco Silver badge

    With my cynics hat on (it's getting a lot of wear lately) I can't help but feeling this press release was carefully timed for the anti-Google backlash regarding proposed change to Chromium.

    Only use WhatsApp and I get the feeling that won't last, it'll be gone soon.

    1. big_D Silver badge

      As it is quasi-illegal in Europe due to GDPR (well, it was quasi-illegal under the previous data protection rules as well), a lot of businesses are banning it from company devices and from private devices that have access to corporate data (E.g. private phone with company Exchange access).

      The companies my family work for have all banned it on their devices and also made a clear declaration that employees cannot discuss anything business related on their private devices over WhatsApp.

      Some have switched to Signal or Telegram (the way they deal with contacts is acceptable under GDPR, at least currently), whilst others have said email only.

      1. Dan 55 Silver badge

        What's the difference between WhatsApp and Signal/Telegram when it comes to address book slurping?

        1. big_D Silver badge

          WhatsApp uploads the complete contact information to Facebook's servers in the USA.

          Signal make a one-off hash of the mobile numbers of your contacts and compares them to registered users. Where the hashes match, you and the contact can then see each other, I believe the hashes are then, allegedly, thrown away.

          So no names, addresses, email addresses, birthdays etc. are uploaded to Signal, just the hashed phone numbers.

          With Telegram you can decide to sync contacts. With WhatsApp, if you turn off contact access, you can't add new friends to WhatsApp and it only displays the telephone numbers, no names.

          1. Dan 55 Silver badge

            If WhatsApp really does slurp complete contact information, the account info report is missing a lot of data which is not good for GDPR compliance.

  7. Will Godfrey Silver badge
    Linux

    Strange

    I don't have any of this crud at all, yet somehow my friends and family seem to be able to contact me when they want to.

    1. Def Silver badge

      Re: Strange

      I can guarantee you they contact each other much more easily. I have a few friends who have either ditched or never enrolled in social media. It's annoying as hell to include them in organising something with a group of people.

      1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

        Re: Strange

        "It's annoying as hell to include them in organising something with a group of people."

        I'd find it as annoying as hell to be included in something organised by a group of people on what I regard as anti-social media.

        1. Def Silver badge

          Re: Strange

          Or maybe you'd just be annoyed if you were included in anything.

      2. Charlie Clark Silver badge

        Re: Strange

        It's annoying as hell to include them in organising something with a group of people.

        Social media is probably the most inefficient way to organise anything. At least from what I see of the various groups. Piss ups in breweries don't come near it. By all means use it for dissemination, but e-mail's just as good for that.

        1. Def Silver badge

          Re: Strange

          Taking Facebook as an example, I use Events for larger things, but if I just want to meet some friends in town, I just add them to a Messenger group and we chat and arrange where to meet - or if people are running late/joining later we just update the group chat saying where we're going as we go.

          The major benefit this has over email is you can quickly see if someone has actually read the message, not to mention being able to chat in real time. Email is a dinosaur that has its uses, but this isn't one of them - trying to follow a conversation by email where a dozen people are chatting is impossible.

      3. JohnFen Silver badge

        Re: Strange

        "I can guarantee you they contact each other much more easily."

        I don't think that you can. Whatapp and the like aren't any easier than the alternatives. They're just more feature-laden.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Strange

      I also don't have any of this crud at all, and now my friends don’t seem to be able to contact me when they want to. Family just about still manage, but they’re mostly octogenerians.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Strange

        ...<<.now my friends don’t seem to be able to contact me when they want to>>...

        then they are not true friends.

  8. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Powering the Age of Surveillance Capitalsim

    Such a complete and utter betrayal of the original aims of WhatsApp

    See The Age of Surveillance Capitalism : The Fight for a Human Future at the New Frontier of Power

    by Shoshana Zuboff

    1. Missing Semicolon Silver badge

      Re: Powering the Age of Surveillance Capitalsim

      "the original aim of WhatsApp"? Surely the aim was to make the founders unfeasibly rich?

      Achievement unlocked!

  9. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    I'm confused. You are sharing your opinions on el Reg, which is a commercial website dedicated to data collection and centralization of information just as solidly as FaceCrosoftoogle.etal for the purpose of making money. Me thinks thou dost protesteth too little, too late.

    1. MrMerrymaker

      Can you substantiate any of that nonsense?

      1. PhilipN Silver badge

        No need

        It’s ok. He admits to being confused.

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Well, The Register doesn't, as far as I am aware, have any particular desire to collect data, other than what we say in our forum posts (which are public anyway).

        Unfortunately, however, like most websites, most of the ad platforms that The Register uses, do.

        So, like many people, I block them. I don't mind locally-hosted advertising, and so make no efforts to block that, but tracked advertising I do strongly object to.

        Also like many, I am still waiting for the Register tip jar...

        1. Ken Moorhouse Silver badge

          Re: the Register tip jar

          I'm certainly not going to download something with that filename.

  10. Healo

    Hopefully Signal or Telegram will gather pace as a result of this. As other people have commented, everyone has WhatsApp, but IIRC when I first started using WhatsApp, it was a bit "niche", but is now omnipresent

    1. werdsmith Silver badge

      Telegram is a very messy looking app, but powerful.

      People say telegram or signal. These two need to talk and codevelop a system to allow cross messaging, then throw that system open to others. That will kill Faecebook messenger, WhatsApp and the other chav apps.

      1. Mage Silver badge

        allow cross messaging, then throw that system open to others

        Only real time is an issue. Email is on some phones since before 2002. SMS is also universal.

        File Transfer (SFTP), VOIP, eMail, http/https are already universal. Maybe even IRC.

        Making walled gardens interoperable isn't the solution. Using universally available stuff that's not proprietary is the solution.

        Issues of VOIP with firewalls have solutions.

        There are a variety of less toxic alternatives to Google (or did they kill theirs?) and Zuckerberg for a combined app able to text OR voice or Video +Voice. Even desktop sharing and real time file transfer. Sadly MS messed up Skype.

        Viber and QQmessenger have pluses and minuses.

        No-one has EVER needed WhatsApp, Instagram and Facebook. Always been plenty of less toxic alternatives.

      2. big_D Silver badge

        Signal is the protocol that WhatsApp uses, Signal the app is therefore WhatsApp without the survellance.

    2. big_D Silver badge

      We dropped WhatsApp when GDPR came into force. Our employers have since banned it on all company devices and banned its use of WhatsApp on private devices for transmitting anything business related.

      I mainly use Signal and Threema, with some Telegram - one of my daughter's employers has settled on Telegram and she won't have more than one messaging app.

      I think the whole family is Facebook free.

    3. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

      "everyone has WhatsApp"

      No they don't. Even the bragging statistics in other posts were less than 100% so quite clearly it's not everyone. It might be everyone you know but that doesn't make you a group to be emulated.

  11. David Pearce

    Telegram and Signal both have their share of security weaknesses too.

    Creating a secure end to end encryption App turns out to be hard to do properly even if nobody is trying to put in a backdoor.

    1. VikiAi Silver badge
      Unhappy

      meanwhile in Australia...

      Or legally mandating one :-(

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Some of us DON'T CARE if there are backdoors.....

      ......because we use our own cipher. Jeremy Fleming (and Bruce in Australia) are welcome to read the message below.......getting the plain text might be a bit more of a problem.

      *

      698A054EA227468001F74F44D17C7D23EFD4E771

      7076E0647E3C6F40E037743C420B5D57EE12F0F3

      6E30A4630B5E23D12CE91DDC13A83B5FDC023636

      389684BE6738E80670A3111475529155687381E3

      4A9852A33C6BD412EBF72C8A755C3B4D10248E24

      402E9444FD3D156063A75F3A469E931E00A0C691

      1C45D7489154F4C547C96FD67374C23DE2F19A04

      5824C0C2B9340203CC7642D99735DD5DEE0025FC

      0A59266E3D60D0773043148CB43D4700AC647ECC

      2FC353B00D606D1197E11DF9D58FD727C8E4BFF5

      0DCAC431244306A64B2C696786CF2A1242623B75

      38A71269655E5CB1FF2D40CC317DBC33AC46E381

      486CA262534BCEE31491609035D34C49DBD0B17D

      6E33D33A4E2F9BC5FE3C3CCE9031821968204DFE

      246C4226DB5BA976069925A430CC6653CDA65F0A

      26B84284B72D6F23813B42501741301D2AF0468A

      5E185

      *

      The End

      1. Steve Davies 3 Silver badge
        Joke

        Re: Some of us DON'T CARE if there are backdoors.....

        All that just to say "Hello World" ????

    3. Charlie Clark Silver badge

      Telegram and Signal both have their share of security weaknesses too.

      Sounds like whataboutery. This isn't about security but who has access to what data. That said, where's that long list of technical flaws?

  12. spold Bronze badge

    WhatAInstaMess

    I'm sorry our pile of data about you just wasn't big enough.

    You(r data) will be assimilated.

    1. spold Bronze badge

      Re: WhatAInstaMess

      ...because none of you is as valuable as all of you

      1. spold Bronze badge

        Re: WhatAInstaMess

        ...and it has AI in the name so the share price just doubled

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: WhatAInstaMess

      "You(r data) will be assimilated."

      If you're on the internet, you(r data) will be assimilated. Period.

      TFTFY

  13. luminous

    Optional

    "Instagram is not a messaging app"

    Would be interesting for someone to write an article on the original concept of an app, and whether its use case changes if enough users decide to use it in a different way? If you have any contact with the younger generation, most of them are messaging on IG now. It's their main messaging app. Another example is Tinder - made to arrange quick bonk, but is used by many many woman as a dating app.

  14. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    One Platform

    One Platform to rule them all,

    One Platform to find them,

    One Platform to bring them all

    and in the darkness bind them

    1. SonOfDilbert
      Coat

      Re: One Platform

      > ...and in the darkness *blind* them

  15. revenant Bronze badge

    "...end-to-end encryption will be carried over from WhatsApp to all three apps"

    Oh? My very first thought when I heard of it was that the encryption capability would be quietly reduced to fit the most open of the three, thus maybe taking a bit of the law-enforcement heat off Facebook.

    1. Snowy
      Facepalm

      Re: "...end-to-end encryption will be carried over from WhatsApp to all three apps"

      Already is if you use it on Android and backup your messages to your Google mail account. The messages are not encrypted when they are backed up.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: "...end-to-end encryption will be carried over from WhatsApp to all three apps"

        "The messages are not encrypted when they are backed up."

        Which it tells you before asking if you want to proceed.

        1. Snowy

          Re: "...end-to-end encryption will be carried over from WhatsApp to all three apps"

          Yes you are told before this happens but there is no option to backup and stay encrypted!

  16. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Your Future Red Hat

    > It has also come as a shock to those who imagined that Facebook's promise that it would allow both outfits – WhatsApp and Instagram – to act independently when it acquired them has not lasted forever.

    This is Your Future too Red Hatters.

    1. Nolveys Silver badge
      Windows

      Re: Your Future Red Hat

      Probably more likely that red hat gradually gets hobbled, the employees leave or get laid off, RedHat Linux gets renamed Watson Blockchain AI and gets binned after everyone abandons it.

  17. 10forcash Bronze badge

    For us - as in Family, friends & colleagues, Viber works well, especially for international voice calls to the oldies

    1. This post has been deleted by its author

  18. MJI Silver badge

    I use whatsAp with work

    And I don't use facebook

    My phone force installed a facebook app which is undeletable.

    3/4 of the memory in it is taken up with compulsary vendor crap.

    As to instagram, what use is it?

    Why would anyone on it want to contact me?

    Will push to move work to another mesaging app.

    We got it pre zuckerturd

    1. This post has been deleted by its author

    2. jonfr

      Re: I use whatsAp with work

      You can remove Facebook.

      Programs -> Facebook -> Stop -> Delete App data.

      It doesn't remove the icon, but it removes anything else in the program that makes it work. It is in fact removed. Unless the delete app data button is disabled. In my experience that is almost never the case.

      1. Fruit and Nutcase Silver badge
        Devil

        Re: I use whatsAp with work

        Unless the delete app data button is disabled. In my experience that is almost never the case.

        On my Android device, the Facebook app can be disabled, but not removed. There was also a FB service lurking...

        Removed them and a whole of other bloatware using adb, without rooting the device...

        1. Install adb (Android Device Bridge)

        2. List the packages that are installed...

        adb shell pm list packages

        3. For each of the packages that have "facebook" (in my case, the following)...

        adb shell pm uninstall --user 0 com.facebook.katana

        adb shell pm uninstall --user 0 com.facebook.system

        adb shell pm uninstall --user 0 com.facebook.appmanager

        adb shell pm uninstall --user 0 com.facebook.services

        The above calls the package manager to uninstall the specified package for user account 0, including data. Add option -k between uninstall and --user to keep any associated data.

        If installed, com.facebook.orca is the FB Messenger App.

        Needless to say, do a complete system backup before you start, in case you get a bit adventurous.

        1. poohbear

          Re: I use whatsAp with work

          Thank you .... need to uninstall Peel Remote (bloatware that came with Samsung and has since morphed beyond its original mostly benign intent)

          1. Francis Boyle Silver badge

            I amazed

            that that's the only thing you want to uninstall from your Samsung.

          2. Fruit and Nutcase Silver badge

            Re: I use whatsAp with work

            @poohbear

            tv.peel.smartremote

        2. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: I use whatsAp with work

          Thanks for this. I've long resented having Faecebook forced on me and, unsurprisingly, I don't trust them enough to believe that just disabling the app stops their snooping.

        3. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: I use whatsAp with work

          ...or get a phone which has Blackberry-hardened Android. No problem getting rid of the bundled Facebook app whatsoever.

  19. Dr_N Silver badge

    Let's see here...

    Facebook? No.

    Instagram? Nope.

    Whatsap? Nuh.

    Ok doesn't affect me so knock yourselves out, Facebook!

    1. Garymrrsn

      Re: Let's see here...

      If anyone who knows anything about you uses any one of them, you are affected.

      1. Snowy
        Flame

        Re: Let's see here...

        Or if you browse any web site with a facebook like icon, unless you block its script that is.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Let's see here...

          FaeceBook and all its domains plus most of google and all the other social media sites are all blocked at my firewall.

          They are all just trying to out do each other to become a real life Big Brother.

          And not IoT shite is used here either.

        2. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

          Re: Let's see here...

          "unless you block its script that is"

          Standard operating practice.

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: Let's see here...

            For you and the other 0.1% of the population of the planet that are nerds.

  20. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    blissfully aware

    no matter how hard I try, I can't re-concile those two, sorry :(

    1. HolySchmoley

      Re: blissfully aware

      >Most users remain blissfully aware of what Facebook actually does,

      The linked article says /un/aware.

      1. Ian Emery Silver badge
        Boffin

        Re: blissfully aware

        Actually, they ARE aware - just dont give a crap.

        At least until someone steals their identity, empties their bank accounts, or uses the FB data to discover the password their fetish porn collection is hidden behind.

        I know of only one person who deleted his FB account after the data slurping was revealed, and he is an septuagenarian !!!

        1. JohnFen Silver badge

          Re: blissfully aware

          "Actually, they ARE aware - just dont give a crap."

          There have been numerous studies trying to address this, and so far they all indicate that the vast majority (80%+) of facebook users aren't aware of this at all, and get upset (or refuse to believe) when they are informed.

  21. Florida1920 Silver badge
    Pint

    Tried to uninstall Facebook, Messenger, Instagram, and WhatsApp

    Only to discover I'd never installed them in the first place. Obviously not installing enough --->

  22. gal5

    Best news Telegram etc. got in recent tech times.

  23. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    What a bunch of technical snobs

    This whole thread can be summarised as "I don't use what the plebs use because I'm elite and I know better".

    Along with "why would anyone in their right use Instagram or other app that I don't?" or "I can't understand why other people want to communicate with people. Unlike me, because I hate them all".

    Tech users are a tiny fraction of normal users. And nerds aren't exactly known for leading fashion trends. When you see this graph plateauing, you'll know people are listening to you.

    Meanwhile, for those (apparently blissfully) unaware of Whatsapp's reach, here's some statistics : https://expandedramblings.com/index.php/whatsapp-statistics/

    1. Ken Moorhouse Silver badge

      Re: What a bunch of technical snobs

      It is not snobbery, it is knowing the potential dangers of pursuing a path. Techies can visualise that path, but non-techies do not possess the information to make such an assessment without sometimes considerable arcane explanations. When confronted by "ease of use" or "this could end badly" choices, many non-enlightened users choose to continue to use flawed technology simply because they are going with the crowd ("Surely not all of my peers can be wrong? If they are then we're all in the same boat anyway.").

      I could pick any number of innovations where people have pursued a doomed path where they were warned and didn't listen. It might take years for reality to set in, and then everyone is wise after the event. Those people that deny their wisdom arose subsequent to the sea-change are the ones that should be reminded of their folly, should it be necessary.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: What a bunch of technical snobs

        In terms of functionality, Whatsapp is probably world class compared to the competition.

        You're going to have to do a lot better to explain to Joe Bloggs why Facebook slurping their data is any worse than Google, Amazon, Microsoft, GCHQ, NSA, local council et al. doing the same. And maybe all the Huawei phones sold last Christmas ;)

        In practical terms, what impact does that have on their lives?

        All you are implying is that techies will start using also-ran apps on principle, whilst the rest world will (wrongly, IYHO), continue with what works for them.

        1. Terry 6 Silver badge

          Re: What a bunch of technical snobs

          You're going to have to do a lot better to explain to Joe Bloggs why Facebook slurping their data is any worse than Google, Amazon, Microsoft, GCHQ, NSA, local council et al. doing the same

          God yes. Just explaining to a friend of my Mrs. why I don't want one of those sodding Amazon spy boxes in the house was difficult enough.

          "But you use Amazon all the time, so they know what you buy"

          "Yes but I don't want them listening to everything I say or do......" etc etc.

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: What a bunch of technical snobs

            Whew, that was a close call!

            However, before you sleep to cosily, presumably you are aware of the other microphones in the billons of smartphones on the planet? Many of which have malware that enables those microphones. Your wife's Mrs might have one of those devices. Or your wife. Or even you. Some of the people you communicate with might even be covertly recording you deliberately.

            Your only option is to live a cave with no comms!

    2. This post has been deleted by its author

  24. gal5

    ..But seriously, why are people bothered by this? FB already owns these, why would this matter? they are still 3 separate apps, and FB already has access to this data, Whatsapp encryption and all.

  25. big_D Silver badge
    Headmaster

    Bear

    Facebook isn't a cuddly teddybear, it is a grizzly bear with a toothache.

  26. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

    Here's an alternative

    For a modest cost of £2.17 per month I subscribe to a service which lets me set up multiple identities for myself and SWMBO, multiple so that I can use different IDs for different people with whom I communicate. The service allows for some online storage of messages but I prefer not to use it as anything more than a buffer because I store the messages locally once I've received them. I have a choice of client software and devices.

    Friends and family don't need to subscribe to the same service to communicate with me as the folks who run the server will look after all that providing friends and family use a similar service - and if they don't want to pay extra they'll probably find it bundled in with services they already pay for. They can even use a free service if they don't mind being slurped. The reason I pay is that I have a bit more flexibility and I can move my set of IDs to another provider if I become dissatisfied which I can't with a bundled service. In fact, I've done that in the past.

    OK, you've all recognised it. It's plain old email. But just what additional steps would be needed to make it easily usable as end-to-end encrypted messaging? Not, I suggest, very much. Add a public key server to the existing smtp server. Add PGP functionality into the mail client that will upload the user's public keys, download those for received messages and locally share private keys if a user wants to use multiple devices for running clients.

    1. Dan 55 Silver badge

      Re: Here's an alternative

      You might be interested in Delta Chat which is an attempt to use IMAP for E2E chat, although you and your contacts really need e-mail accounts with IMAP IDLE support.

    2. SonOfDilbert
      Thumb Up

      Re: Here's an alternative

      I used to use ICQ yonks ago. I'm amazed to find that its still going and the source is Apache 2 licensed and also available on github.

      https://icq.com

  27. Gonzo wizard
    Unhappy

    And it went so well for Google...

    ...that Facebook decided they had to follow suit.

    Surprised, however, I am not. Telegram FTW.

  28. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    "...they will, at some point soon, delete those apps from their phone. Just not yet."

    Nope, took literally minutes to delete my only-recently-reinstated WhatsApp account and uninstall the app itself, when I first read the news of the planned app merge.

  29. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    No social media apps, No friends

    Sorted!

  30. MJI Silver badge

    Facebook is scary

    An example. A workmate uses it on his phone, phone is in his pocket.

    With some friends, a few chat about fostering, he is not directly involved but they are next to him.

    Next time he uses facebook adverts appear for fostering.

    And they wonder why I am not using my new work phone yet (it NEEDS rooting).

    And current phone force installed facebook when the factory install was actually deleted, it force installed, placed an icon and started it.

    JUST PISS OFF!

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