2021 started off with two groups of people: the ones who were ready to leave the nightmare that was 2020 behind them and take on the new year with hope and a deep, deep desire that it will be better this year.

Then there were those who were ready to delete WhatsApp and exit groups faster than you could say “Happy new year!”

When the news broke about WhatsApp’s impending privacy policy update, a wave of panic swept the world over.

The Facebook-owned messaging giant sparked a public outcry with an update to its terms and privacy policy. The update detailed how WhatsApp aims to process the data of users, how businesses can use Facebook services to store their business chats, as well as who partners with Facebook to offer integration across all Facebook products.

While their alleged claim for the announcement of the update was to maintain complete transparency, it was not received as such. Users took to social media, and mainstream media followed suit, expressing their complete displeasure, with the greatest concern being around the gathering and sharing of personal data.

In essence, the changes to WhatsApp terms and privacy policy relate to how WhatsApp will share information within the Facebook group of companies and how any shared information will be used.

These key updates are centred around the following:

  • How WhatsApp processes your data
  • How businesses can use Facebook-hosted services to store and manage their WhatsApp chats
  • How WhatsApp will partner with Facebook to offer integrations across Facebook’s portfolio

 

To date, WhatsApp is the largest instant messaging service in the world, with over 2 billion monthly active users.

So, with all the facts on hand, the question on everybody’s lips was, and for the large part still is, “should I delete my WhatsApp?”. Well, no one can really make that decision for you.

While the privacy policy saga continues, and Telegram and Signal users are on the up, what should be encouraged rather than jumping on to another instant messaging service, is a culture of responsible social behaviour.

Using any platform irresponsibly through the type and nature of the content you post, can in the long-run be more detrimental and damaging than sharing seemingly private personal information. I say seemingly because if you’ve been around for as long as the social era has been around, there are bits of your personal information floating around on the internet, guaranteed.

One cannot choose to be selective in our approach of axing certain platforms and staying active on others. It’s a ‘rip off the band-aid’ situation of sorts.

Start keeping your money in a box under your mattress, never make use of Google maps, or your car’s built-in navigation system. Resist the urge to check-in at your favourite spot, or post a picture of your meal and tag the trendiest eatery.

Social listening is real, and brands rely on it to monitor, and in a sense, dictate the trends they’re promoting. Social media listening software provides functionality for listening, tracking, and gathering relevant content across various social platforms, all with the aim of understanding customer sentiment.

If your concern is solely centred around personal data being accessed, and less around the thoughts and opinions that are ‘innocently’, and more often than not, ‘naively’ shared on social platforms, you have already in a sense missed the mark.

Responsible social behaviour means not posting every last picture of your kids, especially their schools’ names. It also means not checking in at every establishment you visit. Responsible social behaviour is also familiarising yourself with the privacy policies of all the platforms you choose to engage on. It is educating yourself on what certain terms mean, and the impact it has on how you use the respective platforms.

While there is certainly no silver bullet to safe social behaviour, there are things within our control. Be vigilant about what you share, what personal information you so easily divulge, and following prompts that may land you in hot water. 

This article was written by Realm Digital’s Marketing Manager, Jill Titus. The thoughts and opinions shared in this article, are her own. 

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