WhatsApp as we have all known it will end as a service on Feb 8, 2021. Users around the world have been presented with a screen requiring them to accept the sharing of data with “Facebook company products” or have their accounts disabled.
This is Facebook reneging on the promises of privacy they made when they acquired the service nearly a decade ago. For those of us who value privacy this is the final nail in the coffin. While I avoid Facebook like the plague, knowing there was a separation was one of the reasons I made an exception for WhatsApp. Partially, this was also to learn and understand what users may expect from a client. Monal today has a UI that is somewhere between iMessage and WhatsApp as a result.
I, like many others have rejected the change in terms of service. I encourage you to do so as well. I don’t need to go into what kind of toxic company Facebook is, you can go to any news site and see that. Think if you want to associate with them and remember there are other options.
Many people have gone to Signal, which is an excellent app. It is backed by some of the founders of WhatsApp and should feel very familiar to family and friends who used WhatsApp and need to flee Facebook. Signal is open source, secure, using the same cryptography code found in WhatsApp and XMPP. The centralized nature of signal is also one of its weaknesses — the other being it’s dependency on the insecure sms network. It may seem odd to see an xmpp blog advocate for signal but you should use what your contacts are using esp. if most people you know have already decided to go there. While checking out signal, I encourage you to also try xmpp. It has come a long way in the past 20 years and we have worked to modernize the protocol and clients. It you haven’t tried a modern client (and are expecting something like Gaim), it may surprise you.
This should also serve as a reminder of why you may want to run your own server if you know how. You can control your own destiny and wouldn’t be beholden to the good graces of the likes of Facebook for something as basic communication. We have one month before the shutoff, I suggest reaching out to your friends and family, educating and moving off WhatsApp ASAP while you can still reach them on WhatsApp.