Despite its convenience and a long list of features, is WhatsApp really that great? If you've been thinking about making the switch for a while but can't make up your mind, here are 8 reasons to leave WhatsApp and look for an alternative.
Without fear of being wrong, we can say that WhatsApp will never, ever shut down, especially in certain countries where WhatsApp usage is the de facto instant messaging app. Having the lion's share of a local market is one of the main reasons why so many people are reluctant to migrate to other alternatives. After all, it is easier for users to find their friends on WhatsApp than on other instant messaging platforms.
WhatsApp Terms of Service Changes in May 2021
|Article||Why It Matters|
|WhatsApp forces you to share user data with Facebook||How Facebook announced privacy changes in WhatsApp|
|WhatsApp will block incoming messages for those who don't accept new terms & conditions||What happens to those who don't accept the new terms & conditions from May 15, 2021|
|WhatsApp alternatives||Threema, Signal, Telegram - what are the top alternatives to WhatsApp?|
|Backup WhatsApp Conversations and free up storage space||Backups can be used to transfer conversations to a new smartphone|
|Essential Tips and Tricks for WhatsApp on Android|
Despite the complicated task of switching apps, Telegram offers a variety of discussion groups, doesn't care about your personal data, and has a cool feature to create polls. Other apps even allow you to edit messages you've already sent. With that in mind, we've listed 8 reasons to help you quit WhatsApp.
In a nutshell: Main arguments against WhatsApp
- Not enough data protection
- Can only be used on one device
- WhatsApp Web is (still) a joke
- Lacks some features found in rival apps
- Complicated backup process
- Despite encryption, Facebook knows a lot about you
- Lacks the option to edit sent messages
- Group management still leaves a lot to be desired
Although this clause was pushed back from the original deadline in February to May, this move by Facebook definitely drew a lot of attention to data protection policies. To make matters worse, the discussion came amid changes in iOS 14.5 that championed greater personal data control.
The changes highlighted the amount of information that millions (or is it billions?) of WhatsApp users share with Facebook. And it is not limited to just cookies or anonymous data, but also your phone number, location, contacts, etc.
Alternatives: Signal or Telegram
A far more data-friendly alternative is messenger Signal (Android | iOS), which only asks for your phone number and...well, it doesn't belong to Facebook. If you look for user data linked to the AppStore, you'll see a lot of empty space with only your phone number being the only data used.
Do you want to run WhatsApp on a tablet? Or log into a PC only once and then not have to repeat the process? This tends to happen when you are split between a desktop at work and on a laptop at home; where you remain logged in once throughout the day? If so, WhatsApp is not for you.
WhatsApp is only active on exactly one device at any one time. And it should be a smartphone. A second smartphone, tablet or multiple PCs will not work at all. And WhatsApp Web is the biggest joke among messaging apps, but I will talk more about this later...
Alternative: Telegram, or even Messenger!
Telegram, Facebook, and Hangouts are perfect examples of executing such an idea. These messaging apps can be used independently of the smartphone on other devices. They can also be used on multiple devices simultaneously, now how about that for seamless productivity?
In the case of Telegram, you must also enter your mobile number when logging in. However, you will not confirm the login by SMS or QR code, but with a code that is sent via Telegram to all of the other connected devices for a better security verification process. Once connected, all chats and even the draft of your next message will be perfectly synchronized everywhere.
While other messengers offer a one-time QR code confirmation followed by enabling you to chat without a smartphone, WhatsApp Web annoys the heck out of you whenever possible. The Web service is not an app itself, but basically, functions as a remote WhatsApp version with your smartphone being the primary device. If your smartphone is connected to mobile data, it will continue to work. Otherwise, forget about it!
If your smartphone is out of battery, or even turned off, WhatsApp Web is disabled. The same happens when power saving features end up sending the WhatsApp Web service to sleep. If you are going home from work and want to use WhatsApp Web, you will need to completely re-authenticate yourself and sever the connection on your PC at work.
If only loyal WhatsApp users knew what they are missing out on in terms of features on a mobile platform. From polls to communities or even the option to correct spelling mistakes in messages that have already been sent, the list is endless. These features can be found in apps like Signal, Telegram, and Threema, and almost no one talks about them.
Meanwhile, WhatsApp continues with its slow updates of features. The company can even justify that it doesn't want to overload the millions of people who already use the service, but it wouldn't hurt to include some additional features that are helpful. Especially when the other messengers are equally practical and easy to use.
Did you come from an iPhone to Android, or are you planning to switch from Android to iOS? Then you can kiss goodbye to your chat histories. They cannot be transferred from one platform to another. WhatsApp uses iCloud on iPhones and Google Drive for Android.
Google's service can theoretically be used on the iPhone, but the app does not take advantage of it: the WhatsApp backup that has been saved in Google Drive will not be available on iPhone. And let us not venture into the territory for those who were (and are..?) still on Windows Phone and use WhatsApp...
This is another area where WhatsApp's rivals show how one can offer cross-platform backups and ports in a far friendlier fashion. In Telegram, messages are not stored on the smartphone itself but encrypted on a server, which is somewhat similar to iMessage.
WhatsApp may not even snoop your conversation histories, see your photos or listen to your audio recordings. But it knows when you've talked to whom. WhatsApp (and Facebook) has access to your address book and can sync various personal data with the social network, resulting in a profile for each app user.
Sharing your phone contacts even carries legal risk for you: this is because the terms of service for WhatsApp authorize Facebook to connect to different numbers. This creates a huge risk for those who would want to keep some of their contacts private and confidential, away from the prying eyes of the world. And you cannot simply deny access to the app by limiting it to only parts of your contact list, it's all or nothing.
Alternatives: anonymous accounts and metadata encryption
For actual anonymity, an app cannot request data that can be attributed or related to you. However, WhatsApp has your mobile number and does not protect it from being accessed by other people.
WhatsApp should not have the knowledge about whom you chat with and when. This metadata alone can be used to extrapolate unpleasant assumptions about you should one of your contacts is connected to a crime investigation commission, for example.
While WhatsApp allows you to delete your sent messages, but if you just want to fix a typo - or worse, the spellchecker screws up, sorry! You will then need to copy the whole message, delete, paste, rewrite or make edits, and send it again.
This is not only a hassle, but also really absurd. Some competitors like Telegram or even Skype, allow messages to be edited easily after sending.
Groups on WhatsApp are created without much discretion, and the feature in the app is one of the worst in the market. If you look at the tools found in other apps in the same category, WhatsApp loses by a wide margin, even to rivals without the backing of Facebook's vast bank account.
- There are no channels to subscribe to. Telegram offers a way to subscribe to public news channels, like RSS feeds
- Instead, there are only groups where all members can see each other's mobile number
- There is only one administrator level. That is, administrators can override the rights of other administrators
- Groups cannot be closed until all members (up to 256) leave or are manually removed one by one by the administrators
- You cannot easily see which groups you participate in because there is no specific overview of your groups
- By default, anyone can add you to a group, which displays your mobile phone number without your consent
- If you change your mobile number on WhatsApp, members of the groups will be notified of your new number
All the drawbacks and shortcomings of WhatsApp culminate in the group chat feature. Despite its popularity, the tool is still very poor in execution. To make matters worse, the group chat features are not only deficient, but some features are also an affront to your privacy.
A reasonable solution for group chats with complex requirements is Slack. Several chat channels, an efficient messaging system, and professional administration options provide a far more streamlined usage than WhatsApp or many other messaging apps.
There is only one aspect in which WhatsApp is clearly superior to other apps - the sheer number of active users. Once a product is so popular and achieves critical mass, its makers don't have to worry anymore. Even if a perfect rival comes along, it will hardly be able to surpass WhatsApp, unless Facebook makes a disastrous decision.
This dependency is WhatsApp's biggest advantage and unfortunately, is also the reason why Facebook paid so much for the app in the first place. If you don't like this level of control over your information, share this article with others and show other WhatsApp users how inferior the service is compared to its rivals.
This article was updated by our editor, Benjamin Lucks, in May 2021 based on new usage and privacy rules. Previous comments have been retained.