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Digital reset

  • SSP 

I’ve been sitting on the ledge for a while now and Whatsapp’s latest ultimatum is just what I needed to see myself out the doors. I value my freedom and privacy – way more than the perceived convenience and I’ve deleted my Whatsapp account for good.

Ever since FB bought Whatsapp in 2014, they’ve been working on building a feature-set that would keep users tethered to the network – read receipts, web clients, weeding out third party clients, voice calls, removing the 1$ annual fee, file sharing, encryption, desktop clients, video calls, customer service platform for enterprises, status, enhanced video call features – you get it. The most recent move is a strategic attempt to enhance their monetizing pipeline by building the framework to better mine metadata across its various platforms – Whatsapp, Instagram, Facebook and CrowdTangle. In growing economies, Payments has been one realm they have had their eyes on for a while now and this latest move will turbo-boost that intent and help them compete with PayTM, Google and Amazon Payment systems. I’m surprised they took 6 years to get here though.

Users currently have until Feb 8, 2021 to agree. Very few of the millions of users will end up deleting their accounts since most just cannot see beyond Whatsapp and the mainstream messaging platforms. Given its huge user base and the network effect, It’s terrifically socially engineered to keep you from moving out to other apps because of the perceived benefits. Also how do you move your family and then the extended network out of a system that is already so inter-twined? If most of your connections don’t move where’s the draw in moving out? And honestly, I would have probably stayed had they given me an option to opt-out of its most recent terms and conditions. As a business, I know you’re eyeing the honey pot – But hey, not at my expense, free will and something that you shove down my throat. Good riddance.

I use(d) Whatsapp primarily to stay connected with close family. I’m coercing nudging them to move over to Signal / Delta-chat. Surprisingly, it wasn’t that difficult to get them to move. I should have done this several months back…I created groups on Signal and shared those individual links in the Whatsapp groups that I was part of, left a message and immediately deleted my account not waiting for many responses or questions. Majority accepted and are now on Signal! And for those that don’t, there’s always the old school way of connecting via SMS/voice calls. My FB and Instagram accounts are in dormant mode for the last few years now and the only social space I’m ‘active’ is on this blog. Since moving over my RSS feeds to miniflux, I’m more actively following people’s blogs and find that way more enriching than mainstream media. I’m gunning on the premise that if someone really wants to get in touch with me, they will figure out how to.

Love these digital resets. See you on the other side!

PS: Before deleting your account, If you do want to archive your chat history, make sure you manually export and not backup all your chats prior to moving. The backup option on Whatsapp doesn’t do much since the messages are encrypted and Whatsapp deletes the backups too when the account is deleted.

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