WhatsApp? No, thanks!



This article is also available in Romanian.

TL;DR: I don't use WhatsApp

Every now and then I get invited to use WhatsApp. Either for chatting or for joining a group.

Unfortunately, I must decline each invitation. I choose not to use WhatsApp.

How can we chat?

We can keep in touch by using similar apps, but which show more respect for their users. I'm already using Telegram and Signal. They are not perfect (as they are centralized, require a phone number, are only partially free), but are acceptable and since they are pretty popular you might already have other friends using them. I am open to other options.

Still, why not WhatsApp?

There are many reasons to reject WhatsApp. Here are mine:

  • It is proprietary, non-free software:
    • Use? Restricted. You may not use the app wherever you want, but only where their makers want. You have a mobile phone running a recent version of Android or iOS? Good. Got something else? Maybe Ubuntu Touch ? Not a chance.
    • Study? Restricted. You may not study how the app works because the source code is proprietary. Secret. Hidden. You have no way to make sure it's working only in your best interest. You have to take their word for it.
    • Improve? Restricted. As a user, you may not make make improvements to the app. Primarily because you don't have the source code. You are at their mercy. Even if you don't have programming skills or lack the time to do it, it's still impossible to ask a friend to help you or even to hire someone to make the improvements for you.
  • It is owned and made by Facebook.
  • Being available only for Android and iOS, using it means encouraging the Google-Apple duopoly on the mobile device market. Maybe you'd like a mobile phone with neither Google nor Apple. Maybe a new player tries to enter the market with a new mobile phone. Maybe you'd like try it, but would you buy it if it wouldn't run WhatsApp?

Why don't you give in?

If you believe a piece of software is bad for you, then you must not use it. People will say: "Cosmin, join WhatsApp!" If you do, knowing that WhatsApp is not your friend, only for being able to chat with someone, you will make it easier for others to join. Others will say: "Look, Cosmin is on WhatsApp! That means it's OK. I should make an account myself and start chatting with him." This is the network effect . Don't be part of the problem!

As long as better software exists, offering the same features and respecting our freedom and privacy at the same time, I don't see why we we would use WhatsApp. The network effect can also work the other way around. People will say: "Meh, why should I install WhatsApp? Cosmin is not there, nor X, nor Y..."

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