Why I deleted WhatsApp | Gadget 360
WhatsApp is everywhere. My friends, family, coworkers, and pretty much everyone I know uses WhatsApp. People use it for social good – to distribute food to those in need – while others like my local gym use it to notify people of schedule changes. In my entire social circle, there are only three people who don’t use WhatsApp. One of them is me.
I first installed WhatsApp when I was an Android user on a prepaid or paid connection. Text messages used to be expensive and here comes this awesome, lightweight app that lets you message anyone for free. Many of my friends had the app and I was just happy to save money and time. I felt validated in my choice when I read the message from its founders explaining why WhatsApp doesn’t sell ads and never will.
(Also see: WhatsApp now offers video calls, optimized for connectivity issues in India)
WhatsApp had several things that I liked. When my old Android phone started slowing down, it might have been the only third-party app that worked without a hitch. It was also the only app that worked even when internet speeds slowed. Whenever I was in a crowded place in Delhi or traveling across the country WhatsApp worked. And of course all my friends were on WhatsApp and the app helped me stay in touch.
I still had to deal with a few minor inconveniences. People started spamming the forwarded messages and I got added to a bunch of WhatsApp groups which can get really irritating. I managed to circumvent this notification overload simply by asking people not to spam and leaving groups with too much chatter. Finally, I reached a zen WhatsApp state. I was in two or three groups, of three or four close friends each, in addition to having several conversations with other individuals.
(Also see: India is WhatsApp’s largest market with over 160 million active users)
Then I upgraded to an iPhone 5s. I lost my chat history because WhatsApp hadn’t (and still hasn’t) figured out a way to let people transfer chats from Android to iPhone, or vice versa. It was the first time I had a big problem with WhatsApp. I also found the iPhone app quite poor. WhatsApp’s Android app (even today) is much nicer than the iPhone variant. The iPhone app only gets most features after its Android counterpart, which was an added annoyance.
I always stuck with the app for one simple reason – everyone was on WhatsApp. That started to change when some of my closest friends switched to iPhones. In early 2016, I realized that all but two of my closest friends were on iMessage. In the meantime, Facebook had bought WhatsApp, and what followed was what I feared. WhatsApp has started sharing some data with Facebook so the social media giant can serve better ads. This was the trigger that pushed me to actively search for alternatives. I know WhatsApp says they don’t share chat history with Facebook, but that’s still a change from the policy WhatsApp started with. It’s nearly impossible to avoid this type of Internet ad tracking dominated by Google, Facebook, and Amazon, but at least I’d much rather a company not know everything there is to know about me.
The person I message the most recently started using Signal, a privacy-focused messaging app, and the rest of my friends and family are on iMessage. That leaves a few friends who I occasionally text, but I recently switched to a postpaid connection and found texting to be a viable option as well.
It may not be so easy for other people to get away from WhatsApp. In terms of speed and reliability, it’s still one of the best options out there. And I’m not saying anyone else should get rid of WhatsApp. But for me, the fact that everyone I wanted to talk to was now on other apps was something to celebrate.