Lessons From The Recent WhatsApp Controversy To Help Us Keep Our Data Safe

lessons from the recent whatsapp controversy to help us keep our data safe

Photo via Reuters

The recent controversy over WhatsApp’s new terms of service has gotten users seriously thinking about just how much of their data is shared online. 

It comes amid reports claiming that WhatsApp’s new terms allow it to share user data with its parent company Facebook. 

While the messaging platform has since cleared the air about its new Terms & Conditons, this has done little to ease the concern of the general public.

lessons from the recent whatsapp controversy to help us keep our data safe

Cyber Security Consultant, Fong Choong Fook told Astro Radio News the WhatsApp issue has put the spotlight on just how little attention we’ve been paying to the terms of service whenever we sign up for an online account. 

He said most people are in the habit of just clicking ‘accept’ without knowing what they’re agreeing to, which is something that could come back to haunt us later. 

“In a way it is putting us at risk, because we’ll never know what exactly is in the details. It's always supposed to be a balance between risk and reward. So we just have to weigh the risk. If something is very new and we are not too sure about the terms and conditions, then perhaps we have to spend more time studying it rather than blindly accepting," he said.

This means that for WhatsApp users who are thinking about switching to rival services like Telegram or Signal, the onus is on you – the users – to carefully go through the T&C’s before signing up. 

But it is not just online platforms we need to worry about when it comes to sharing of data. 

Fong explained that most of the time, especially on social media, it is the users themselves who are freely disclosing information, whether they realise it or not. 

“For example when we post our family pictures on social media, we’re showing the house we live in, the car that we drive. A lot of this personal information can reveal a lot about us. It can reveal our financial status and our current interests. And it is giving a lot of opportunities to third parties to do profiling on us (for marketing and advertising purposes)."

He added that besides being careful about what we share on Facebook or Instagram, we can also protect ourselves by not disclosing non-essential personal information, for instance our income details, when signing up for online services.

Make sure you take note of this, guys! Keep your data safe!


by Nicholas Darren John