Even when we discоunt people switching to alternative social networking and chat apps
for political reasons lately, Facebook forced a true exodus from WhatsApp, its $16 billion acquisition, by the simple act of pushing an update.
No good deed goes unpunished, they say, and in the case of Facebook crying wolf, that's what happened. The social giant decided to be transparent for a change, and started pushing messages warning WhatsApp users about terms of service changes that involve sharing some data with Facebook.
While the "sharing" in question was referring to Facebook trying to build WhatsApp business communication, just like you can directly chat with a business on Facebook Messenger now, it didn't take long for posts warning that the company wants to read you messages to go viral. That's rather ironic, considering that WhatsApp as a medium has been the sources of fake viral posts that have led to mass delusions and even ethnic cleansing.
In any case, since the notification was pushed out, WhatsApp and Facebook entered damage control mode, and tried to explain what is happening, but the times we live in are rather unforgiving for Big Tech. As a result, tens of millions flocked from WhatsApp to privacy-oriented chat apps like Signal or Telegram
, and even to... drumroll... ICQ.
Just like the other two apps mentioned, the clunky ICQ saw its ranks swell
thanks to the WhatsApp exodus. It's ironic, because two of those chat apps that people are now flocking to have a Russian connection but maybe that's precisely why they are so encryption-focused.
In any case, WhatsApp has reversed the controversial update for now, and February 8 will come and go without the terms of service being changed. Now all that is left is for someone to resurrect AOL's Instant Messenger.