Is there life beyond WhatsApp?

The author warns about the need to become aware of taking care of our conversations in chats, and making decisions about the technology that makes them possible.

It maintains that European laws represent a privacy shield against the policy of large companies in the use of personal data

The smartphone it is a tool with which we interact with the world. The icons that occupy your screen are not toys, it is an interface that allows us to do things. WhatsApp, for example, is a cornerstone of our society. In their chats we do everything from composing songs to closing deals; from keeping memories to falling in love. Every time we press the green icon, we enter a world of real possibilities, because we share conversations with real people.

Lack of understanding and misinformation

WhatsApp can limit the forwarding function so that we think before we act: who might be interested in that message? what it says? That limits the constant bombardment that collapses our attention.
Nevertheless, responsibility remains individual. Save our chats and groups, Preventing misinformation and tension from colonizing our conversations is in our hands. We just have to act responsibly, in a civilized way.

WhatsApp, a necessity?

The other option is that WhatsApp breaks, and with it, a part of our day to day. What would we do? How to rebuild our lives without this application, without the people with whom we connect? There are people who only respond to wasaps, would we lose it?

It is not unthinkable. I, on May 15, I run out of WhatsApp. I have done nothing wrong. They kick me off WhatsApp because I am privileged. I’m lucky that the essential chats for my life are on Signal. I do not need to enter WhatsApp every day. I have alternative and I can calmly assess if I want to accept the new changes in the conditions of service posed by Facebook.

Most of my contacts will have hit “OK” without reading, in the rush to see a message. Others will have read it and, even if they don’t like it, they have to reluctantly accept coercion from Facebook. Your only alternative is to have your entire schedule swiftly switched to another messaging tool. This includes bosses, work contacts, and people who don’t know how to install applications. They need to continue on WhatsApp and they have to accept what Facebook imposes. They are trapped, they are hostages, and they have no escape.

European laws, a privacy shield

Individual responsibility

It is reassuring to know that Facebook is not able to process our data in Europe in a satisfactory way. It means that there is still room for politics to also “limit forwarding” from the tech giants (Big Tech). That is why the GDPR is inspiring change on a global level.

Along these lines, the Inter-American Juridical Committee, an advisory body of the Organization of American States, has just approved Updated Principles on Privacy and Protection of Personal Data that offer greater security to users. Reviewed by the Ibero-American Data Protection Network, the document constitutes a legislative basis for data protection for the countries of the American continent, especially for those that do not yet have legislation on this subject.

The privileged position of those of us who have European citizenship cannot be a reason to consent to an unfair taxation. We cannot take refuge behind a digital citizenship in the non-existent borders of cyberspace. The solution is not to invent digital passports. We have to take joint responsibility, and the simplest solution is to apply the vision of the future that Mark Zuckerberg presented for Facebook in 2019.

Through a press release, Zuckerberg proclaimed that it is necessary to respect user privacy and points to measures such as collecting “less personal information”, and remembering that “the best way to protect the most sensitive information is not to store it.” Applying these ideas, Facebook would have no problem with the GDPR, and WhatsApp would not have to change its privacy policy.

We need to face the reality of cyberspace. Accept that it is a part of our life and assume a civic responsibility. We must take care of our conversations in chats, and make conscious decisions about the technology that makes them possible.

Letting Facebook kick me off WhatsApp is a way to invite those who matter most to me to talk about this, although it will have to be in Signal.

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