Social media’s live and let live philosophy is being challenged. The likes of Facebook have enjoyed a free run so far. They have obtained users data at will, blended the law of piracy and rejected any state intervention.
It sounds like an unfair proposal, which is why governments around the world are now stepping in. They are saying enough is enough to Facebook.
Have you been getting a lot of pop-ups on WhatsApp? Chances are you have because WhatsApp is overhauling their privacy terms and they want you to sign up. This is happening to users everywhere in the world.
You either accept the new terms or say goodbye to WhatsApp. But what exactly are these new terms and why are they controversial.
The biggest worry is data sharing. If you accept the new term, WhatsApp will be able to share your data with their parent company Facebook.
They say your conversations and chats shall be safely encrypted. But the rest of it, not so much.
We are talking about your IP address, your name, residence, phone model and stuff like that.
What if you don’t want to share this data? Surely that cannot be an excuse for booting you from WhatsApp, right?
The company is planning to appeal against the order. Germany’s move could trigger a chain reaction. The regulators in Hamburg are urging their European peers to do the same.
How is WhatsApp responding to all this?
They say the new policy has been misunderstood. If that’s the case, it seems like the whole world has misunderstood WhatsApp.
In February this year, India’s supreme court pulled up Facebook. The judges said privacy was more important than trillion dollar companies. Harsh words but they worked.
WhatsApp has abandoned the May 15th deadline in India, you can refuse to accept the new policy and still use WhatsApp in India.
Brazil is trying something similar. Their data protection agency has asked WhatsApp to postpone the policy changes. If the company refuses, they could be prosecuted.
So, if the whole world is against it, why is Facebook not changing course?
For starters they say everyone shares data. This was their argument at the Delhi high court. If other apps can do it, why not them. Not exactly a robust legal defense.
Secondly, this is the only way to monetize WhatsApp. Unlike Facebook or Instagram, WhatsApp does not have advertisements. So data mining is the only way to make money.
Unfortunately for WhatsApp it’s also illegal. But the privacy challenge pales in comparison to Facebook’s lawsuits in the United States because America could potentially break up this social media empire.
Facebook is battling two lawsuits: one from the states that accuse it of stifling competition and the other from the Federal Trade Commission. The second one wants Facebook to sell off WhatsApp and Instagram.
The verdict is expected next month. A breakup is Facebook’s worst nightmare. Their business model depends on single ownership though breaking up Facebook would likely take years. It would put an end to their cross-platform data hype. Social media isn’t the wild west anymore and Facebook is learning this, one court ruling at a time