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Official: Facebook swallows WhatsApp

FB_swallows_WhatsAppNoone would have believed the Nightly News that has hit lots of local
media and tech magazines. But it’s true and official: Facebook has
bought WhatsApp. A whopping $19 billion whereas of 4 billion have been
paid directly, has been forked out by Facebook to seal the deal.

It seems as if Mark Zuckerberg has not seen a bright future for the built-in Facebook Messenger. Most people are using WhatsApp which consists of 450 million members according to most actual figures. So what’s new for all of us who use WhatsApp? The developers of WhatsApp say that nothing would change nor would Facebook use the given cell phone number to spam you with ads.

Seems fair so far and hereby nothing to worry about. Or is it?

One may think: Why fork out 19 billion US$ for a communication service? – See, WhatsApp is running on every fourth smartphone sold worldwide. Apple has published the App as One-time-fee App since it’s release. It’s not actually known how many copies have been sold on Apple’s AppStore alone but rumors come up that the Apple version of WhatsApp may soon also become a price-plan-based App which bases on an annual fee (0.79 US$ seems the most real price tag as it is reported on several web sources). Many people are upset because of this but Android users have been confronted with this situation in late 2012 when an update implemented the annual fee price plan “feature” that time.

So while $0.79 doesn’t sound much for a year (and it really isn’t as SMS is much more expensive when compared to!) it may become much if you multiply it by 450 million. The App is said to generate another million users each month which would also flood in a raw dollar per user, meaning 12 million each year. Seems fair but on the other hand there stand a bunch of developers and a huge infrastructure to be paid.

Security issues

While Facebook has been mistrusted as the NSA’s pet and delivering information with ease to them, WhatsApp has the big issue that messages weren’t encrypted in any way when sent over the web for a long time. After some zero-day-security issues to have leaked, WhatsApp has received an update implementing an encryption scheme but it seems still weak if being tortured from NSA’s tools.
threemaThreema, developed by two young swiss men, uses a much harder encryption algorithm and thus is much more safe. The only problem: It isn’t well-known in the scene as everyone uses WhatsApp and most people have based their WhatsApp contacts upon their personal phone address book. While WhatsApp isn’t available for the iPad yet, Threema IS! This might be a big advantage for Threema as many people would like to use their messenger on the iPad, too! Threema also supports groups and audio/video transfers. Unfortunately the

With the Facebook purchase, security issues may become a big concern to many users as Facebook itself has been often criticized for their rather lapse privacy policy. Many silent changes of the TOS (Terms Of Service) and hidden privacy settings that have to be dug from the deep, didn’t fit into the gusto of many users. Maybe that’s one reason why this purchase news is now shocking a lot of WhatsApp users. Imagine the fact that now all sent messages from you get into the hands of Facebook (and most likely the NSA). So if there have been embarrassing moments of you, chances are high that they may leak one time as it may be most likely that Facebook will alter WhatsApp to fit into Facebook’s marketing model, communication API and other aspects of technology where WhatsApp doesn’t meet up with Facebook “standards”.

It is a really worrying development that is ongoing. Okay, there’s nothing much I would have trouble with when using WhatsApp (and if they seriously see a threat in funny sound files, well, NSA, go ahead…) but still I feel uncomfy, knowing that Facebook now has access to this pool of information as well. The thrill selling data to paying ad companies is big and I bet it would drive BIG dollar signs into Mark Zuckerberg’s eyes.

Also the former founders of WhatsApp will receive $3 billion in the form of Facebook shares over the next years. So will they still stay solid to their community and not let WhatsApp become another Facebook tool that holes out your privacy? – I guess that’s time’s task to tell us in the near future.

Alternatives

There are indeed some alternatives to WhatsApp for those willing to get a bit more secure or at least try to flee Facebook’s grabbling hands.

Threema is one of them offering a good, powerful encryption for the communication done.
If you’re not paranoid of Asians to deal with your “secrets”, then LINE might be worth a try.Google+ seems to be the all-time archenemy of WhatsApp
And for those who have used Skype in the past and do not fear Microsoft’s clutches, may want to use Skype.

Best of all: All four alternatives are free to use (except premium features such as land line calls) and they support iPone, iPod and iPad with iOS 6. On Android side they are also available. Google+ may be already installed out of the box on selected Android devices such as the Nexus 5 for example. All other apps are available in the respective App store. Easy to google anyways. ;)

Threema as the most secure one is also the only app that requires a purchase fee of $1.99 in either App store. But hey… you can’t put a price tag on security. And to be honest. 2 bucks haven’t killed anyone of us smartphone users so far!

Conclusion

Facebook’s action today was a shock to many of the WhatsApp users and even I was a bit dazzled to see that Facebook has purchased WhatsApp. First I thought this to be a hoax news but now it seems for real. Unlike some security freaks I am still using WhatsApp. But my eyes are on the upper mentionned alternatives as well!

Let’s see what the future brings to us. If WhatsApp is betraying the loyal users, there ARE alternatives to be used for easy communication. So Facebook should not hose WhatsApp as it might be their last big purchase. Even big companies may fail if they to bad.

The Facebook stock share price had a slight fall unto 64 US$ per share but now tangles at roughly 69 US$ per share. Seems well then! Mark Zuckerberg will joy, I suppose…

And the future of WhatsApp? – Well, I guess, there won’t be any surprising changes in the near future but on long term axis, there might be an enormous EULA to read in the future… *sigh*

© Copyright 2014 Netspark, All rights Reserved. Written For: Netspark's Blog
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February 20, 2014 Netspark - 967 posts - Member since: May 9th, 2011 No Comments »

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