Facebook/WhatsApp: Consumers have no choice

08 January 2021

Facebook is making another grab for my data, this time through WhatsApp.

The valuable data in my phone book, my connections, location, social interactions and more, are all ripe for the taking.

I can either give Facebook permission to do this, or I can decline, and stop using the app.

If I decline, I’ll be locked out of conversations with friends and family, some conversations stretching back many years.

Some people suggest moving to a privacy-focused messaging app, like Signal.

The problem is: I now have to convince all of my friends to do the same.

My friends don’t share all the same views as me. (This is a good thing.)

But if I have personal concerns about privacy, and I still want to keep in contact with friends and family, I have no choice but to use these apps.

I have caved in, and accepted the new terms of service.

The market, given free rein, has failed.

Online communication tools are not a choice any more. They are a utility, used by billions, and need to be treated as such.

Telephony is regulated. I have the choice to move my phone number between providers. I can phone any other phone number, even if it’s on a different network.

So why aren’t the same freedoms guaranteed with online communications?