The rollout of privacy labels in all apps available in the iOS app store has revealed the massive amount of information that Facebook collects through Facebook Messenger and WhatsApp. This revelation has seemingly burst the bubble around WhatsApp and Facebook Messenger, and started an exodus to end-to-end encrypted messaging apps that have a better track record and reputation on privacy. Apple first announced the privacy labels late in 2020, and now that their much anticipated roll out has occurred, we’re seeing the needle move on privacy awareness for the mainstream right before our eyes.
Apple has revealed to the world just how information hungry Facebook is
9 to 5 Mac illustrated the sharp contrast between the data harvesting footprints of Facebook Messenger vs WhatsApp vs iMessage vs Signal in an infographic that has been making its rounds on the internet. The image shows the full spectrum – on the full blast side of the personal information siphon is none other than Facebook Messenger which shares everything from purchases and financial info to browsing history, search history, and even something called sensitive info. Apple’s privacy labels even categorize what the personal information is used for. In Facebook Messenger’s case, the information is used for everything from third party advertising, to analytics, product personalization, app functionality, and even something called “other purposes.” Facebook has called these privacy labels misleading and “anti-competitive.” On the privacy preserving end of the spectrum is Signal, which collects none of that information.
While those that consider themselves privacy experts have long known the stark differences in the privacy offered by different apps, depending on company philosophy, Apple’s privacy labels are bringing that sentiment to the masses finally. Since the release of the privacy labels, thousands if not millions of users have updated their end to end encrypted messaging app of choice. Public figures such as Elon Musk, the newly minted richest man in the world, have now publicly endorsed Signal. At the same time, many continue to lament the use of phone numbers by the Signal app – though the privacy labels confirm that Signal does not attempt to correlate your phone number with any other information. On their end, Signal has stated that they are working on allowing Signal use without a phone number.