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In an unprecedented decision that has left tech observers struggling to contain their shock, Facebook has decided to create a common software architecture for its three main apps: Facebook Messenger, Instagram, and WhatsApp. After all, never before in corporate history has one company spent billions acquiring other …
And WhatsApp only has transport encryption, which is essentially worthless, as it's Facebook you don't want listening in, and that's the bit that's not encrypted.
I laugh at numpties that tell me Facebook can't listen in on their WhatsApp chats, as the internet told them it's encrypted. I ask them if their fingers and eyes are included in that encryption, as that is the only way you get true end to end.
What they have is an app, where Facebook slurp what you type and what you receive, before it's encrypted and sent.
WhatsApp's encryption is message level, not just transport level. Read the whitepaper on how it works. I'm not saying they perform zero analytics in the app but I do believe that individual messages are not readable by Facebook or anyone else. The current benefit for Facebook is the immense value of knowing who communicates with who and how frequently.
If you think encryption is stopping Facebook snooping on your Whatsapp messages, you are living in a dream world, They own the app, they can do whatever they want before and after it's been sent/received.
How did Skype worked without? There are many ways to make it work without phone numbers and address books slurping. But all theses apps are designed around getting a unique ID like phone number and then creating relationships slurping the phone books. This is also one of the most powerful ways to match data with real people identities.
It's not that much traffic telling a supernode which is your IP... the continuous OS and app slurping consumes much more bandwidth.
You can also do it without supernodes using some distributed servers - no P2P architecture, but I guess any messaging app today use a central directory.
Really, no need to use something like the phone number which is actually never used on an IP network.
And which raids your phonebook too also. I would use only a messaging app that doesn't require my phone number and let me add contacts myself. No need they look for my 'friends' when many of the numbers I have are not friends at all (business and service numbers, some of which could be quite 'reserved'), nor I may want all 'friends' to be able to message me.
Presumably these friends communicated with each other before Facebook even existed. If networks effects are so powerful how did Facebook replace those? If a sufficient subset replace FB with something they feel comfortable with and agree on then if the rest want to remain in touch they will have to add that something to their own repertoire in exactly the same way as they joined FB in the first place.
When child at appropriate and legal age wanted to install whatsapp to chat with friends at who all had existing whatsapp accounts, I said no (for FB slurp reasons -- I know there's message level encryption, in fact it's quite good and uses the same system that Signal uses/devised, but there's a complete Contacts slurp to FB etc). Arbitrarily chose Wire over Wire and Signal (kinda wish I'd done the other now, but there's not much in it), and he managed to persuade (over a matter of weeks) his friends to install too. They still have whatsapp for other contacts but use wire for their circle. It IS feasible to get people to switch! With the current negative press about FB I would have thought now is exactly the right time to try. Suggest Signal or Wire -- Telegram is already on the Russians' radar. GNU Ring (or Jami or whatever it's called now) is too difficult to set up for the average familial Joseph/Josephine so you won't persuade your friends with that (unless they're all techy paranoid friends). AC because I've said too much already!
Just live without it. Chat app is not an essential part of life, I don't do Facebook or anything associated with Facebook.
Sometimes when using SMS people want to send a picture, or a sound even. or include more than one person.Or have a regular group to communicate with.
And for most people the "included minutes" they get with their mobile phone contract excludes that and instead charges them. I've been caught that way myself and got charged. So they use Wattsapp.
And I switch to Watsapp as required.
And out in the real world people have Watsapp on their phones and so they use it. They just do. They never remove unwanted preinstalled apps, or delete old messages or use secure passwords. Why would they avoid Watsapp? Not why should , but why would they.
There are VCs behind Signal, probably.
There aren't, there's a foundation that pays for hosting (pretty cheap) and development (less so). It also doesn't matter that much as the protocal and code have been open from the start.
There are other reasons why Signal is unlikely to rule the roost — multi-device support and group management are poor, partly due to the way the protocol works — but the sale of user data isn't among them.
"the claim they wouldn't use the data was a lie. And so it proved."
The European Commission investigated the takeover and agreed to it on condition that Facebook would not merge user data from WhatsApp with Facebook. Facebook subsequently reneged on the agreement and was given a relatively small fine.
I just leave them there and after a few days I'll login on my computer (using a private browser window to avoid polluting myself with a bunch of Facebook cookies) so I can read the message. Which is usually not worth the bother, or out of date by the time I get to it.
I wish there was a way to block messages entirely from my Facebook account.
I hope he rolls messenger back into the main facebook app. I refuse to install a separate app for chatting, and am seriously tired of the stupid main app telling me I have unread messages that I don't have.
You have the main app installed? Wrong way round.
I have the Messenger app installed but use the mobile site in a browser.
When comparing my FB Archive (the "all-your-data-we-have" download thingy) with others who had the app installed, the amount and diversity of slurped data they had (SMS messages, call histories, etc) was startling. The Messenger app doesn't seem to slurp half as much as the main app (at least not with the permissions I've given it). I am however trying to wean people onto Signal and away from WhatsApp and FB Messenger.
"Or it just made it easier, since it will increase the monopoly, especially if user data, and not only messages, are consolidated?"
I would have thought that is what it is all about, how much more money can we make aggregate all those billions of users and there data?
Of course they are probably doing it already but it is a lot of work.
Facebook should be forced to split of Instagram and WhatsApp. The problem is that they are such a shower of two-faced shites, they will keep everything whilst swearing blind they have complied.
Wattsapp wasn't great and the privacy issue is still there, but it is far better than SMS - since I don't get charged for including a photo.
Signal you say. Erm. Wattsapp is on almost everyone's device. There's far too much inertia here.
Signal is on almost no one's and just because I wouldn't want to use the rolled-up Wattsapp it doesn't mean that I'll find any friends and family ( especially family) who will switch. Because they won't know anyone else who'd switch, because... recursively.
Everyone has Wattsapp, which means everyone needs to use Wattsapp to send rich messages to anyone else.
I don’t know anyone who uses WhatsApp, and it has the Facebook association stigma which kind of condemns it to chavdom.
But, in 2019 it shouldn’t be necessary to load one app to message one person, then another app to message someone else and a third app etc. That’s just ridiculous, and this is the reason that despite all the features and extra functionality, these apps are inferior to the old fashioned generic protocols, poo3, smtp and even SMS.
Same applies to social media, I should be able to choose one but still share content across people who have chosen another.
Some of the ideals of the internet and web are already badly eroded by the.likes of Fuckerberg.
If the web and web comms becomes owned by one or two corporate entities then the web is properly fucked.
Quite possible as the US has a low penetration of WhatsApp. For the 18-29 age group its 30% and for the 30-59 folks it's 25% both of which are dwarfed by Facebook messenger.
It's the network effect. You use what your friends use, and they use what their friends use. For the US this means a big dominance of Facebook messenger and for the UK it's WhatsApp. It is however possible that you are in an isolated social bubble so don't come across people using the regionally dominant messenger even though they probably do ...... just not with you.
I'm not convinced by those figures for UK users. I'm sure there are lots of supposed UK based accounts on there, but plenty of them will be secondary accounts* or some of the huge number of bot accounts.
*Lots of people who use social media have multiple accounts (an innocuous one that potential employers, relatives etc. can find easily as will use their name or an obvious variant, then one (or more) accounts for "real" interaction with their friends and that is less sanitized (and not obviously using their name) - still plenty of oversharing, but identity obfuscation to avoid impact on job prospects etc. Others reasons for multiple accounts, are when social media presence required as representing their employer which places limits on what they can say, so they will have a separate less restricted more personal social media presence.
OK so you are not lying but you probably are mistaken and do know lots of people who use WhatsApp. It's just that they don't message you with it as you don't have WhatsApp. Were you to install WhatsApp on your phone I suspect it would identify many other users from their phone numbers in your list of contacts.
I can't however imagine you would do that, though the results would be interesting to you.
"I can't however imagine you would do that"
I can't imagine why he would either. Why should he as, like myself, he manages perfectly well without. Perceptions of the indispensability of such things are entirely an artefact of their use. There are alternatives. The alternatives need cash payment but the, of course so do FB and the rest in addition to the cost in slurpage - you pay for the communications platform itself don't you?
I don’t know anyone who uses WhatsApp
Nor me, but I'm an 'old git' who shuns social media and it's just something else I let pass me by. Is it popular? No idea.
But I do keep hearing how our Members of Parliament use it to run their affairs, conduct their scheming and plotting, so I'm going to be delighted if they find to their costs that it has back doors and leaks like a sieve on command.
Mine's the one with a book of stamps in the pocket and a bottle of invisible ink.
I'd have hoped our members of parliament would have used Signal, Wickr, Wire, or something to conduct their scheming and plotting instead of entrusting their schemes and plots to the whims of Facebook, but such is British politics for you.
Anyway, they've probably all got chat history backup to Google Drive set up which makes E2E encryption pointless.
Looking forward to the update that uploads everything in the chat history to Facebook as well.
You're right, but unfortunately there is no money to be made promoting a chat program using standards that is interoperable with clients by other companies.
Mind you, I'm glad not to be regularly using the poo3 protocol you mentioned. It was a load of shit, and always failed the smell test!
But, in 2019 it shouldn’t be necessary to load one app to message one person, then another app to message someone else and a third app etc.
Agree but this is largely because the mobile networks couldn't agree on updates to the protocols. Google is pushing an updated and "universal" rich messaging protocol, which I think should be welcomed. Obviously not for reasons of privacy, though the protocol is designed to be essentially as private as SMS, which is reasonable, but for the attempt to create a protocol that just works. Google's angle is that if there is no messaging monopoly, then there will be less advertising money diverted toward any one network, which is what Facebook is aiming for.
And after the several Google failures to achieve one, it's better to have a "universal" one Google can tap into...
Agreed, but, overall, I think it's a good idea if carriers pick it up and don't go stupid over pricing.
You guys need to put that fallacy to rest.
It doesn't matter a iota what "everyone" are using.
What matters is what you and your contacts are using or agree to use. That is a much more manageable and flexible problem to solve.
You were not using whatsapp six years ago. You won't be using it six years from now. Do not be afraid to use your power of decision.
Please note, I am NOT advocating Signal under any circumstances!
Most people just go with the crowd. It's lazy and doesn't require much thought. It's what defines people as "normal". Not much free will involved there - they just can't help themselves.
They don't want to stand out and be seen as "abnormal" since that group is often treated like lepers.
True, but also mass communication requires a common tool.
When I got my first email address,decades ago, I seldom got to use it. Because no one else I knew had one, then.
Pre-installing a messaging app means that you know other people have got it too. So you can just use it. Getting All and Sundry (especially Sundry) to install a different one, just so that you can contact them might seem a bit fussy for most people.
As opposed to facebook messenger or compared to other IM software, like the aforementioned Signal. Figures (in the context of instant messaging software, not all devices on entire planet including those who never IM) please. And source. And excluding countries that use their own govt approved service btw..
Or was that just a random vague claim, unsupported or out of context?
It's a shame you're getting downvoted so much, as there is a lot of truth in what was written.
At least in the UK, and amongst my EU colleagues and friends, Whatsapp is ubiquitous that any replacement needs to overcome a significant network effect. It does not matter if there are 10 competing apps, in fact that makes it worse; we are not going to all install 10 different apps, and then try and figure out which friend group communicates on which app.
I personally have several disparate friend groups (from university, from previous jobs, from social activities), and trying to move them all onto another messaging service is not going to be easy. Trust them or not, the UK survey statistics show ~80% of 18-44 year olds in the UK use WhatsApp (with the percentage dropping for the older age groups). Source: statista.com
As it is quasi-illegal in Europe due to GDPR (well, it was quasi-illegal under the previous data protection rules as well), a lot of businesses are banning it from company devices and from private devices that have access to corporate data (E.g. private phone with company Exchange access).
The companies my family work for have all banned it on their devices and also made a clear declaration that employees cannot discuss anything business related on their private devices over WhatsApp.
Some have switched to Signal or Telegram (the way they deal with contacts is acceptable under GDPR, at least currently), whilst others have said email only.
WhatsApp uploads the complete contact information to Facebook's servers in the USA.
Signal make a one-off hash of the mobile numbers of your contacts and compares them to registered users. Where the hashes match, you and the contact can then see each other, I believe the hashes are then, allegedly, thrown away.
So no names, addresses, email addresses, birthdays etc. are uploaded to Signal, just the hashed phone numbers.
With Telegram you can decide to sync contacts. With WhatsApp, if you turn off contact access, you can't add new friends to WhatsApp and it only displays the telephone numbers, no names.
It's annoying as hell to include them in organising something with a group of people.
Social media is probably the most inefficient way to organise anything. At least from what I see of the various groups. Piss ups in breweries don't come near it. By all means use it for dissemination, but e-mail's just as good for that.
Taking Facebook as an example, I use Events for larger things, but if I just want to meet some friends in town, I just add them to a Messenger group and we chat and arrange where to meet - or if people are running late/joining later we just update the group chat saying where we're going as we go.
The major benefit this has over email is you can quickly see if someone has actually read the message, not to mention being able to chat in real time. Email is a dinosaur that has its uses, but this isn't one of them - trying to follow a conversation by email where a dozen people are chatting is impossible.
Well, The Register doesn't, as far as I am aware, have any particular desire to collect data, other than what we say in our forum posts (which are public anyway).
Unfortunately, however, like most websites, most of the ad platforms that The Register uses, do.
So, like many people, I block them. I don't mind locally-hosted advertising, and so make no efforts to block that, but tracked advertising I do strongly object to.
Also like many, I am still waiting for the Register tip jar...
Only real time is an issue. Email is on some phones since before 2002. SMS is also universal.
File Transfer (SFTP), VOIP, eMail, http/https are already universal. Maybe even IRC.
Making walled gardens interoperable isn't the solution. Using universally available stuff that's not proprietary is the solution.
Issues of VOIP with firewalls have solutions.
There are a variety of less toxic alternatives to Google (or did they kill theirs?) and Zuckerberg for a combined app able to text OR voice or Video +Voice. Even desktop sharing and real time file transfer. Sadly MS messed up Skype.
Viber and QQmessenger have pluses and minuses.
No-one has EVER needed WhatsApp, Instagram and Facebook. Always been plenty of less toxic alternatives.
We dropped WhatsApp when GDPR came into force. Our employers have since banned it on all company devices and banned its use of WhatsApp on private devices for transmitting anything business related.
I mainly use Signal and Threema, with some Telegram - one of my daughter's employers has settled on Telegram and she won't have more than one messaging app.
I think the whole family is Facebook free.
......because we use our own cipher. Jeremy Fleming (and Bruce in Australia) are welcome to read the message below.......getting the plain text might be a bit more of a problem.
"Instagram is not a messaging app"
Would be interesting for someone to write an article on the original concept of an app, and whether its use case changes if enough users decide to use it in a different way? If you have any contact with the younger generation, most of them are messaging on IG now. It's their main messaging app. Another example is Tinder - made to arrange quick bonk, but is used by many many woman as a dating app.
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And I don't use facebook
My phone force installed a facebook app which is undeletable.
3/4 of the memory in it is taken up with compulsary vendor crap.
As to instagram, what use is it?
Why would anyone on it want to contact me?
Will push to move work to another mesaging app.
We got it pre zuckerturd
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You can remove Facebook.
Programs -> Facebook -> Stop -> Delete App data.
It doesn't remove the icon, but it removes anything else in the program that makes it work. It is in fact removed. Unless the delete app data button is disabled. In my experience that is almost never the case.
Unless the delete app data button is disabled. In my experience that is almost never the case.
On my Android device, the Facebook app can be disabled, but not removed. There was also a FB service lurking...
Removed them and a whole of other bloatware using adb, without rooting the device...
1. Install adb (Android Device Bridge)
2. List the packages that are installed...
adb shell pm list packages
3. For each of the packages that have "facebook" (in my case, the following)...
adb shell pm uninstall --user 0 com.facebook.katana
adb shell pm uninstall --user 0 com.facebook.system
adb shell pm uninstall --user 0 com.facebook.appmanager
adb shell pm uninstall --user 0 com.facebook.services
The above calls the package manager to uninstall the specified package for user account 0, including data. Add option -k between uninstall and --user to keep any associated data.
If installed, com.facebook.orca is the FB Messenger App.
Needless to say, do a complete system backup before you start, in case you get a bit adventurous.
Actually, they ARE aware - just dont give a crap.
At least until someone steals their identity, empties their bank accounts, or uses the FB data to discover the password their fetish porn collection is hidden behind.
I know of only one person who deleted his FB account after the data slurping was revealed, and he is an septuagenarian !!!
"Actually, they ARE aware - just dont give a crap."
There have been numerous studies trying to address this, and so far they all indicate that the vast majority (80%+) of facebook users aren't aware of this at all, and get upset (or refuse to believe) when they are informed.
This whole thread can be summarised as "I don't use what the plebs use because I'm elite and I know better".
Along with "why would anyone in their right use Instagram or other app that I don't?" or "I can't understand why other people want to communicate with people. Unlike me, because I hate them all".
Tech users are a tiny fraction of normal users. And nerds aren't exactly known for leading fashion trends. When you see this graph plateauing, you'll know people are listening to you.
Meanwhile, for those (apparently blissfully) unaware of Whatsapp's reach, here's some statistics : https://expandedramblings.com/index.php/whatsapp-statistics/
It is not snobbery, it is knowing the potential dangers of pursuing a path. Techies can visualise that path, but non-techies do not possess the information to make such an assessment without sometimes considerable arcane explanations. When confronted by "ease of use" or "this could end badly" choices, many non-enlightened users choose to continue to use flawed technology simply because they are going with the crowd ("Surely not all of my peers can be wrong? If they are then we're all in the same boat anyway.").
I could pick any number of innovations where people have pursued a doomed path where they were warned and didn't listen. It might take years for reality to set in, and then everyone is wise after the event. Those people that deny their wisdom arose subsequent to the sea-change are the ones that should be reminded of their folly, should it be necessary.
In terms of functionality, Whatsapp is probably world class compared to the competition.
You're going to have to do a lot better to explain to Joe Bloggs why Facebook slurping their data is any worse than Google, Amazon, Microsoft, GCHQ, NSA, local council et al. doing the same. And maybe all the Huawei phones sold last Christmas ;)
In practical terms, what impact does that have on their lives?
All you are implying is that techies will start using also-ran apps on principle, whilst the rest world will (wrongly, IYHO), continue with what works for them.
You're going to have to do a lot better to explain to Joe Bloggs why Facebook slurping their data is any worse than Google, Amazon, Microsoft, GCHQ, NSA, local council et al. doing the same
God yes. Just explaining to a friend of my Mrs. why I don't want one of those sodding Amazon spy boxes in the house was difficult enough.
"But you use Amazon all the time, so they know what you buy"
"Yes but I don't want them listening to everything I say or do......" etc etc.
Whew, that was a close call!
However, before you sleep to cosily, presumably you are aware of the other microphones in the billons of smartphones on the planet? Many of which have malware that enables those microphones. Your wife's Mrs might have one of those devices. Or your wife. Or even you. Some of the people you communicate with might even be covertly recording you deliberately.
Your only option is to live a cave with no comms!
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For a modest cost of £2.17 per month I subscribe to a service which lets me set up multiple identities for myself and SWMBO, multiple so that I can use different IDs for different people with whom I communicate. The service allows for some online storage of messages but I prefer not to use it as anything more than a buffer because I store the messages locally once I've received them. I have a choice of client software and devices.
Friends and family don't need to subscribe to the same service to communicate with me as the folks who run the server will look after all that providing friends and family use a similar service - and if they don't want to pay extra they'll probably find it bundled in with services they already pay for. They can even use a free service if they don't mind being slurped. The reason I pay is that I have a bit more flexibility and I can move my set of IDs to another provider if I become dissatisfied which I can't with a bundled service. In fact, I've done that in the past.
OK, you've all recognised it. It's plain old email. But just what additional steps would be needed to make it easily usable as end-to-end encrypted messaging? Not, I suggest, very much. Add a public key server to the existing smtp server. Add PGP functionality into the mail client that will upload the user's public keys, download those for received messages and locally share private keys if a user wants to use multiple devices for running clients.
An example. A workmate uses it on his phone, phone is in his pocket.
With some friends, a few chat about fostering, he is not directly involved but they are next to him.
Next time he uses facebook adverts appear for fostering.
And they wonder why I am not using my new work phone yet (it NEEDS rooting).
And current phone force installed facebook when the factory install was actually deleted, it force installed, placed an icon and started it.
JUST PISS OFF!