What’s App? Well, Losing Your Privacy

A Whatsapp App logo is seen behind a Samsung Galaxy S4 phone that is logged on to Facebook in the central Bosnian town of Zenica

Today, we live public lives in private. Face it. Someone could be watching you or listening to you right now and you’ve given them the keys to your world, whether you like it or not.

Sometime last week, WhatsApp changed its long standing privacy policy and will now share your telephone number with its parent, Facebook. Of course, you can opt out, but seriously, how many times have you clicked ‘agree’ without even reading the first word, let alone paragraph?

If you’ve done just that, know that until 30 days from the change, you can go to settings and still opt out. Opt in or out, we think that there are arguments for both sides, which we’ll take a look at here.

Ok, so with free online services, first know that you are not the client. You are the product. The client is an advertiser that pays for the ‘privilege’ to bombard you with their marketing material, solicited or otherwise.

If you opt in, you’ll get to know what’s happening around you and maybe even come across something you’d like and want to be a part of. If you opt out, well, there’ll still be plenty of people to sell things to you, who’ve gotten your personal information in less than savoury ways. At least WhatsApp is being nice about it. How many times have you received SMS messages from people you never gave your number to?

Besides, with all the stuff we post on Facebook and other social media, it’s likely that anyone with a computer can find out more about you with a simple Google search than is good for you.

From Facebook’s point of view, they’re quite entitled to this new change. Nobody pays 19 billion dollars for fun. 2 years after acquiring it, it’s no surprise that Facebook is looking to monetize WhatsApp.

Ultimately, it comes down to a moral question of whether it is right for large organisations to share your personal information willy-nilly. The truth is that your information is out there anyway for anyone to find.

Online advertising and its methods are a double edged sword. On one hand, it’s a miracle. People can sell you stuff you’re likely to buy, wasting less of your time and theirs. But on the flip side, your personal information is being traded like a commodity.

People will say, ‘so what, we have nothing to hide’. The moral argument, however, is that just because we have nothing to hide does not mean that we should live in glass houses. The real, painful questions are these, what if someday you do have something to hide, but nowhere to hide it and are you really comfortable with what anyone can find out about you with a simple Google search?

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