Despite privacy dispute: Large majority continues to use Whatsapp

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When Whatsapp announced new data protection rules in January, it caused a lot of uncertainty. Hundreds of thousands unceremoniously threw the messenger off their cell phones. The parent company Facebook reacts and postpones the new rules for the time being. A survey shows: Most users who are still there will probably remain loyal to the app.

The months-long controversy over Whatsapp’s new data protection rules has so far had little impact on Facebook’s chat service in Germany. In a survey commissioned by Deutsche Presse-Agentur, 79 percent said they have the app on their smartphone and use it. According to the survey, more than half of WhatsApp users have already agreed to the new regulations, which came into force in mid-May.

At the same time, 13 percent said they planned to delete the app. Around half of them already had data protection concerns beforehand, five percent of those surveyed by Yougov Germany only had doubts after the debate about the new regulations – and two percent want to leave because many of their contacts have also removed Whatsapp.

Whether it actually comes to the permanent farewell of Whatsapp, however, is still another question. In the past twelve months, only three percent of respondents deleted the app from their smartphones. And a total of eight percent said they had already removed Whatsapp once – but then returned because too many of their contacts could be reached via the service.

Almost half of all Whatsapp users, however, do not have a good feeling about data protection. Thus, every third person has concerns – but remains because contacts can be reached there. Another 14 percent also have doubts, but do not know of any good alternative. No data protection concerns have 28 percent.

Facebook is not yet earning money with Whatsapp

Whatsapp has more than two billion users. Following the announcement of new usage rules, the service has had to contend with significant criticism in recent months. The trigger was the assessment that more data could be shared with the parent company Facebook with the update. Whatsapp rejects this as a misunderstanding and explains that the changes were primarily intended to create a basis for communication between companies and their customers. At the same time, the service moved away from plans to severely limit functionality over time for users who do not agree to the rules.

Facebook wants to make money from communication between businesses and their customers using Whatsapp. The world’s largest online network had acquired Messenger in 2014 for what ended up being around $22 billion. With the purchase, Facebook took a potential rival off the market, but the service has hardly contributed to the group’s profits so far.

Signal is the preferred alternative

According to the survey, the most popular Whatsapp alternative among the few potential churners is Signal with 27 percent. WhatsApp also uses this app’s technology for end-to-end encryption. With full encryption, the contents of the communication are basically only visible to the participants in plain text, but not to the operators of the platform. Signal is now financially supported by Whatsapp co-founder Brian Acton, who has left the Facebook group.

Telegram was almost on a par with Signal in the favor of potential Whatsapp churners. For the app operated by the founder of the Russian Facebook clone VKontakte, Pawel Durow, 26 percent want to decide. Threema came in at 16 percent, and 13 percent want to switch to Facebook’s in-house alternative Messenger. 15 percent want to return to classic SMS. Even among those who have already left WhatsApp, Signal leads as an alternative with 28 percent. Around one in five of them uses Threema and Telegram, and 15 percent use Facebook Messenger. In the representative online survey, Yougov Germany questioned 2029 people in mid-June.

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